Matters – Where is Matters stands in Four Ultimate Realities. – Quick Recap about the last introduction.

Four Ultimate Realities

One may think why are we going away from the order and start to discuss about Matters.  Because it matters a lot when we are trying to understand and recognise the four ultimate realities.  Out of these four it is somewhat easy to understand and recognize.  Because few of them are visible.  Remember, very beginning we talk about eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind.  Except mind other parts are visible right? Also, just because of Color you can recognise the seeing world.  Just imagine if all the things surrounded us get neutral in color. How would you be able to see this seeing world.

In Buddhist teaching, form or matter (rupa) is described as such because it is liable to be deformed, disturbed or broken (ruppati) by elements such as cold, heat, hunger, thirst, flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun and snakes etc. The four primary elements are interdependent on each other and none of them is able to exist on their own without the presence of the other three elements. For example, when the earth element is present in a certain matter, the other three elements of water, fire and air are also present.

Four Primary Matters Represent Equally

They are present in equal quantities in all material phenomena, the prominence of one particular element being due to its greater intensity compared to the other three elements rather than its quantity. If the quality of solidity is predominant it is referred to as earth element, while if the quality of fluidity is predominant it is referred to as water element and so on.

Let us first try to learn those matters by their names. In its analysis of matter the Abhidhamma recognizes twenty-eight [28] kinds of material phenomena. Four of these are called primary, twenty-four secondary. The secondary kinds are dependant on the primary.

The four primary elements:

01. The Earth element (pa.thavi dhaatu) = solidity
02. The Water element (aapo dhaatu) = adhesion
03. The Fire element (tejo dhaatu) = heat
04. The Wind element (vaayo dhaatu) = motion

Directly caused(nipphanna)secondary Matters comprise the following:

Five sensory receptors (pasaada ruupaani):

05. eye (cakkhu pasaada),
06. ear (sota pasaada),
07. nose (ghaana pasaada),
08. tongue (jivhaa pasaada), and
09. body (kaaya pasaada).

Four stimulation matters (gocara ruupaani):

10. color (,
11. sound (sadda),
12. odor (gandha), and
13. taste (rasa).

Two sex matters (bhaava ruupaani):

14. the male matter(purisa bhaava) and
15. the female matter(itthi bhaava),

16. The heart or mind-base element (hadaya vatthu):

17. The life element (jiivitindriya):

18. The nutriment element (aahaara ruupa):

Indirectly caused(anipphanna) secondary elements are:

19. The space element (aakaasa dhaatu):

Two intimating matters (viññatti):these are

20. bodily intimation matter (kaaya viññatti) and
21. verbal intimation matter (vaci viññatti),

Three alterable matters (vikaara ruupaani):

22. buoyancy matter(lahuta)
23. pliancy matter(mudutaa)
24. efficiency matter(kammaññataa)

Four phase matters ( rupani):

25. initial arising matter(upachaya)
26. subsequent genesis matter(santati)
27. decay matter(jarataa)
28. ceasing matter(aniccataa)

Lord Buddha taught us 28 matters with their categorisation.  By names there are 28 Matters which have identically different actions that causes in different ways in our day to day life. There are 04 Base or primary matters and 24 secondary matters.

The twenty-four secondary elements are divided into two groups. Like the four primary elements, fourteen are directly caused (nipphanna). These are essentially particles of matter.

The other ten are indirectly caused (anipphanna). These are only the properties of the directly caused elements and are not particles of matter. Therefore, this classification covers both the physical and functional aspects of matter.

Now let us try to understand individually their specific identical  features. 

Whole world is created by the mix of these four ultimate realities.  Similarly, these matters  also mixing with different ways to create this world totally depending on the Karma. According to the karma they are occurring and then the karma is finished they are vanishing without keeping the trace or without leftovers.  

Matters – The four primary elements:

01. The Earth element (pa.thavi dhaatu) = solidity

The solid element gives consistency to matter varying from hardness to softness. The more predominant the solid element, the firmer the object. This is also the element of extension by virtue of which objects occupy space. It has the function of supporting the other material phenomena.

The earth element may be internal (i.e., referable to an individual) or it may be external. Regarding the internal, whatever is hard, solid, or derived therefrom, such as hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, and various organs, is the earth element. Whatever is an internal earth element and whatever is an external earth element are just earth element.

The earth element does not represent the earth in it’s solid form but, it’s quality of solidity. It represents the quality of solidity, resistance and the form of any particular material object. Any matter with solidity will ultimately transform into soil and hence they are called Pathavi dhatu. The earth element also possess the quality of extension and it is due to the presence of the earth element that the matter can occupy any space. The main characteristics of the earth element are hardness and softness which are relative terms in describing the earth element. When a particular object is described as hard compared to an object with lesser solidity, the same object may be described as soft when compared to another object with more solidity. There are in fact six characteristics of the earth element and They are:
          01. hardness
          02. roughness
          03. smoothness
          04. softness.
          05. heaviness and
          06. lightness.

The earth element is present in all matter including water, heat and air but, with lesser intensity compared to the other three elements.

Earth element (pathavi dhatu) in the human body

The Buddha has described the following twenty body parts representing the earth element in the body, from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin as anything that is hard and solid that is;

01. Head hairs,                                  02. body hairs,                                        03. nails,                                        04. teeth,
05. skin,                                            06. flesh,                                                 07. tendons,                                  08. bones,
09. bone marrow,                              10. kidneys,                                             11. heart,                                        12. liver,
13. membranes,                                 14. spleen,                                              15. lungs,                                       16. large intestines,
17. small intestines,                            18. contents of the stomach,                   19. faeces                                       20. brain.

02. The Water element (aapo dhaatu) = adhesion
     The adhesion element has a cohesive function. It holds the particles of matter together and prevents them from scattering. It predominates in liquids because, unlike solids, liquids unite when brought together. This adhesion element is intangible.

The water element may be internal or external. Regarding the internal, whatever is liquid and derived therefrom, such as bile, phlegm, pus, and blood is the water element. Whatever is an internal water element and whatever is an external water element are just water element.

The water element does not refer to water as such, but to the qualities of the water element which can be described as fluidity and cohesion. Solubility and viscosity may also be described as qualities of the water element. Through the quality of cohesion, the water element binds particles together. For example, particles such as sand, soil or flour which appear to exist separately, will stick together when a liquid is added to them. Similarly, in all material substances, the internal particles are bound and kept together by the cohesive quality of the water element.

Water element (apo dhatu) in the human body

The internal water element in the body has been described as anything water and watery. There are twelve such body parts:
01. bile,                                              02. phlegm,                                             03. pus,                                         04. blood,
05. sweat,                                          06. fat,                                                     07. tears,                                       08. oil,
09. saliva,                                           10. mucus,                                               11. oil of the joints                          12. urine.

03. The Fire element (tejo dhaatu) = heat
     The heat element accounts for an object’s temperature. An object is hot or cold depending on the amount of heat element. This element has the function of maturing or vitalizing. It accounts for preservation and decay.

“The fire element may be internal or external. Regarding the internal, whatever is heat, warmth, and derived therefrom, such as that by which one is vitalized, consumed, or burnt up, and that by which the ingested food is digested, this is the fire element. Whatever is an internal fire element and whatever is an external fire element are just fire element.

The fire quality does not imply fire, but the quality of heat or energy of the material substances. Heat and cold are the two specific characteristics of the fire element. Though, the fire element appears to be the most prominent quality of fire, fire consists of all the four primary elements and likewise, the element of fire is present in earth, water and air matter as well to a lesser intensity compared to the other three elements.

The internal fire element in the body has been described as anything that is fire and fiery. Four types of fire element have been described within the human body.

Fire element (tejo dhatu) in the human body

01. Santharpana Thejo dhathu – Fire element that keeps the body warm
02. Jirapana Thejo dhathu – Fire element which causes ageing of the body
03. Paridahana Thejo dhathu – Fire element that causes fever differnt kinds of burnings, flammation in side the body
04. Paachaka Thejo dhathu – Fire element that digests what is eaten and drunk

Then do you experience that tejo-dhatu when you sit for meditation? A lot! Sometimes you feel as if you are sitting on the fire. Sometimes you are sitting on a block of ice. Cold and hot. Then you have to watch it, cold, cold, hot, hot. If you do not observe it then you’ll identify that feeling of cold with yourself: `Oh I am cold, I am cold. I need some sweater or some blanket to cover on me,` because you identify the cold with yourself.

Actually cold is not yourself. Theoretically you know cold is not a person, not a being, not a man or not a woman, but you perceive it to be a person because, `I cold.` I am the man who feels cold. I am the woman who feels hot. Then cold and hot are identified with yourself and your person. Why? Because you do not close your door. Then what should you do? You should close your door, and note cold, cold, hot, hot, hot.

When your mindfulness becomes powerful and concentration deeper then you realise cold separate from your body or away from your body. The feeling of cold or hot is there. You are here, you are realising and noting it. Sometimes when concentration becomes deeper then there’s no you or no person who notes the cold.


04. The Wind element (vaayo dhaatu) = motion
     The motion element imparts motion and causes expansion and contraction.

The wind element may be internal or external. Regarding the internal, whatever is motion, wind, and derived therefrom, such as the winds going up and down, winds in the belly, winds that shoot across the limbs, inbreathing and outbreathing, is the wind element. Whatever is an internal wind element and whatever is an external wind element are just wind element.

In conclusion if you draw a line and ask any one to measure and separate these four bases exactly to the point exactly, that the one matter separated from the other matter there is none to complete the task.

It continues like a circle. In a line one end Earth and the other end Air or Motion or wind. The adhesion and the heat in between the earth and the Air. Very simple experiment to witness this is Rain. Take an Ice Cube for an example. Because of the heat of the Sun ice cube get melted and the water evaporates. This evaporation goes high in the sky. 

Because of the low temperature it gets condensation and then pour as rain on to the earth. Ice Cube is an earth matter, Sun Heat is with the Air or Motion. They both together makes water called adhesion and air or motion. Likewise matters are always behave like a bunch and cannot separate one from the other. Out of Four main base matters the preponderance of one element over the other three gives the material object its main characteristic.

Vayo dhatu is the element of motion. It is seen in the wind blowing about and pushing against things. This dhatu pushes or moves other aggregate matter.

Air element (vayo dhatu) in the human body

The internal wind element in the body has been described as anything that is wind and windy.

01. Uddhangama – Wind that moves upward, causing bleaching, coughing, sneezing and related illness. When we speak this wind moves constantly upwards and cause bowel discomfort. One should not speak with an empty stomach.
02. Adhogama – Wind that moves downward causing bowel movement and frequent motion.
03. Kucchittha – Wind that moves about in the visceral cavity apart from the large and small intestines.
04. Kotthasaya – Wind that moves about inside the large and small intestines, pushing digestible food from the stomach into the rectum.
05. Anggamanganusari – Wind that moves within the limbs. If this wind does not move freely illness results. In our bodies there are small veins along which this wind moves. Staying in one posture for a long time prevents this wind from moving freely causing blood to accumulate at one location without flowing freely leading to stiffness and pain. To prevent this ailment, we should avoid remaining in one posture for a long time; and take walking exercise.
06. Assasapassasa – Wind inhaled and exhaled by us. It is also known as anapana.

Reflection on the four primary elements (dhatumanasikara)

In the Maha Satipatthana sutta, while giving instructions to contemplate the body in the body (kayanupassana), the Buddha described reflection on the four primary elements as the fifth of the six meditation techniques to be practised in relation to the body. The Buddha’s instruction is that in whatever posture the body is placed, standing, sitting, lying down or walking, the meditator reflects that there are only the earth element (pathavi dhatu), water element (apo dhatu), fire element (tejo dhatu) and air element (vayo dhatu) in the body.

The Buddha presented a simile to describe how the meditator should reflect on the four primary elements in the body. A skilled butcher or his assistant, having slaughtered a cow and cut it’s carcass into different portions such as flesh, bones, intestines, liver etc. sits at the junction of four roads to sell the meat. The butcher may have had the perception of a cow while he was feeding it beforehand, while taking it to the slaughter house, while killing it in the slaughter house and while looking at the dead carcass of the cow.

Look at your body like a butcher through Matters

However, after cutting the carcass into different portions, the butcher now has no perception of the cow, but the perception of meat in different forms and portions. For the butcher, he is not selling a cow, but just meat, and similarly his customers are not buying a cow, but just the meat in different forms and portions.

In this simile, the butcher represents the meditator while the perception of the cow is similar to the perception of a permanent self in the meditator’s body. The junction of the four roads represent the four postures of standing, sitting, lying down and walking. The cutting up of the carcass and sitting with the portions of meat represent the meditator separating the body into the primary elements and contemplating on them.

As reflection on the primary elements is a strong technique of meditation, it is advisable at least in the beginning to have an experienced meditator or a teacher as a mentor to provide guidance and support.

Matter - Ego
Matter - Ego

Egoism will be vanished  

Why Lord Buddha divided each and every thing in to parts by parts until find the ultimate realities then only one can understand there is nothing prevails except these ultimate realities. One who realizes this he who keeps aside the words I, Mine, Me, Myself, etc the words related to build ego.  Once start questioning himself  which part could I say belongs to me or myself or mine he feels there is nothing except ultimate realities matter, chiththa, chaithisika.

Once, he realizes this illusion of the world created by the magician mind sooner the things that he hold tightly, let go away.  he feels those as garbage that not belongs to him or anybody anymore, sooner he allows these things to move out of his life.

Directly caused secondary elements[matters] comprise the following:

The two topics which include 9 items we have already discussed in detailed in the Mind and mindfulness page.  If you feel that you want to read it again just use the given link above.

Out of these 5 Stimulation Sensories Color is playing the very important role.  Because of the color Eye recognising the whole world  and its shapes.  But remember we learned eye only taking the sense of the color and giving that signal to the consciousness.  Same way you should know about the other three sound, Odor and Taste.

Special note about Stimulation Sensories.  Hope you remember we learned 5 Stimulation Sensories and now you may wonder why here we mentioned only four.  The reason is this. Here we learned only Four stimulation elements (gocara ruupaani):  01. Color (vanna), 02. Sound (sadda), 03. Odor (gandha), and 04. Taste (rasa). except Tactile sensation.

Tactile Sensation – (pottabba)

Tactile sensation is not mentioned in this group because, unlike the others, tactile sense is not a unique sensory element but a mix of three of the four primary elements solidity, heat and motion, which account for the object’s pressure, texture, heat and resistance. The exception is the element of adhesion which is far too subtle to create any tactile impression. Whereas tactile stimuli evoke either pain or pleasure, the other four stimuli arouse only a neutral feeling.

My attempt is to explain you as far as using very simple words to explain the concept that we need to touch and grab but still we need to read three four times to understand a one concept.  Imagine how much effort Lord buddha alone has dedicated in years in his samsara journey on behalf of us to understand those realities and taught us.

Always keep in mind, do not stuck to words and their meanings.  Lord buddha asked us to feel them to your mind your consciousness and understand them using and arousing or awakening your sleeping lazy wisdom. We must give our fullest attention to that stage. But for searching something first you need to understand the concept or the features of the things that you need to search.  That is what we are doing now.[matters

Two sex elements (bhaava ruupaani):

14. The male (purisa bhaava) and
15. The female (itthi bhaava),

which comes into being at the moment of conception determining the person’s sex. This sex determination is related to kamma. If it is not precisely shown it is just because of the karma.  

16. The heart or mind-base element (hadaya vatthu):

In the Buddha’s time the view was held that the heart forms the seat of consciousness. The Buddha never accepted or rejected this theory.  He referred to the basis of consciousness indirectly as: “naama ruupa nissaaya  – that material thing depending on which mind-element and mind-consciousness-element arise.” Since mind and matter are inter-dependent, it is reasonable to conclude that by the phrase “that material thing” the Buddha intended any tissue in the body that can function as a basis for consciousness, except those serving as the basis for sensory consciousness. We can understand it as the living nerve cell.

17. The life element (jiivitindriya):

Just as the psychic life faculty, one of the universal mental factors, vitalizes the mind and its factors, the physical life faculty vitalizes the organic matter of the body. Born of kamma, it is reproduced from moment to moment. Both psychic life and physical life cease with death.

18. The nutriment element (aahaara ruupa):

Is the nutritive essence which sustains the body. This topic we will discuss in detail latter part of the lessons. 

Indirectly caused secondary elements[matters] are:

19. The space element (aakaasa dhaatu):

This is what keeps the material units apart and prevents their fusion. It is not an objective reality but a concept that results from the coming into being of the material units.

In Mahaa Raahulovaada Sutta the Buddha also describes the space element (aakaasa dhaatu) which, he says, may likewise be internal or external: “Regarding the internal, whatever is space, spacious and derived therefrom, such as the different orifices and cavities in the body, is the space element. Whatever is the internal space element and whatever is the external space element are just space element.”

It will be noted that in each instance the Buddha pointed out a fundamental identity between the internal and the external elements. The significance of this will be discussed later. 

Two intimating elements (viññatti):

These are:

20. Bodily intimation (kaaya viññatti) and
21. Verbal intimation (vaci viññatti),

These two are responsible respectively for bodily communication and verbal communication. They are called “intimation” because they make possible communication between beings. These two elements occur seventeen times more rapidly than the other physical elements, being equal in duration to a thought unit. In physiological terms they probably correspond to nerve impulses.

Three alterable elements (vikaara ruupaani):

22. Buoyancy (lahutaa)
23. Pliancy (mudutaa)
24. Efficiency (kammaññataa)

These elements are responsible for health, vigor and activity of the body. They are brought about by wholesome thought, moderation in eating habits and favorable climate.

Four phase elements ( ruupaani):

25. Initial arising (upacaya)
26. Subsequent genesis (santati)
27. Decay (jarataa)
28. Ceasing (aniccataa)

These are stages in the life duration of an element in a continual process of change.  Up to this stage we have completed 28 matters out of 81 ultimate realities.  Lord Buddha always tried to divide the things for its ultimate realities and showed us last remainings are the same though we recognised them differently. 

The Arising of Material Form (samu.t.thaana)

Pure Octad – [Shuddashtakaya] 

Pure Octad

The material elements never occur in isolation but in groups or clusters called kalaapas. A kalaapa can contain from eight to thirteen matters. There is no cluster of matter without at least eight elements, the four primary matters[Mahabutha] and four secondary matters — namely color, taste, smell, and nutriment. A unit containing only these is called a Pure Octad.

Material phenomena arise through four causes:
           01. Kamma,
           02. Consciousness,
           03. Heat, and 
           04. Nutriment.


Kamma conditions the physical organism at conception. At the moment of conception three kalaapas are generated through kamma
                                     01. The decads of sex – The sex decad (bhaava dasaka) has the essential octad plus the sex element, either male or female, and the life element
                                    02. The body decads, – The body decad (kaaya dasaka) is made up of the essential octad plus the element of bodily sensitivity and the life element
                                     03. The mind-base decads – The mind-base decad (vatthu dasaka) is made up of the essential octad plus the mind-base element and the life element.

After the embryo has been formed through these three decads, from about the eleventh week of gestation onwards, the decads of the other four sense organs begin to form. Kamma causes and sustains these material phenomena through the whole course of life.

Consciousness (citta).

The mind can not only influence matter but also produce material phenomena. Psychosomatic illnesses like duodenal ulcers, high blood pressure, and asthma indicate such operations. Other examples are levitation, telekinesis, and fire-walking. In the normal course of events consciousness is responsible for volitional bodily action and speech, the postures, respiration, production of sweat and tears, and the three alterable elements — buoyancy, pliancy, and efficiency.

Heat (utu).

The heat element (tejo), one of the four primaries present in all clusters of matter, can itself cause different kinds of matter to arise, both simple octads and more complex formations.

Nutriment (aahaara).

The nutriment element (ojaa), present in all clusters, when supported by external nutriment, has the capacity to produce different kinds of material phenomena which in turn have reproductive power. These begin to arise from the time the mother’s nutriment circulates in the fetus. This nutritive element is one of the causes of long life.

Life Span of Matters

Pure Octad Life Span

Matter’s Life Span.

Before moving forward we must understand the life span of the Matter = “Rupa” as well Consciousness = “Chiththa”. Consciousness and Matter have three stages:
               01. The time of birth, = “Uthpada”
               02. The time of existence = “Tithi”
               03. The time of extinction = ”Banga”

As they are the shortest period of time in this world, the name “Kshana” is applied to those time period. The time of birth is called Uthpadakshana, the time of existence is called Tithikshina, and the time of death is called Bhangakshana.

[Example: it is like this: year, month, day, hour, minute, second, millisecond, nanosecond,…….. Kshana[ Scientific World yet have not recognise this but Lord Buddha on his supramundane[wisdom] understood the world smallest particle and named it as “Kshana” about 2560 years before.]

The three periods of
              01. Utpada – Small Kshana -1
              02. Tithi – Small kshana – 1                       Chiththa[Consciousness] + kshana[Time period] = Chiththakshana – 1 [Equal to three equal small Kshanas]
              03. Bhanga – Small Kshana -1
belongs to Consciousness are combined and the name Chiththakshana is applied to it.


Chiththakshana means the time of a Consciousness.   As I told several occasions in previous lessons do not try to hang on the words. Always, try to understand the concept and the environment of the action or the material phenomena using your meditative power.   For that, as clues or hints keep these facts in mind.

Not only that on his supramundane,Lord buddha understood the above said three stages of the mind. but also, Lord buddha said in a blink of an eye the mind occuring 10,000,000 x 100,000 and they all creating due to the cause of the previous Karma[Action].  When the causes finished those consciousnesses also completely finished without keeping any trace. Further he taught us there is no creator all happenings due to the causes.

Find the way to Nibbana

[Example: It is like this. One, wanted to go to see the Big Ben. First he will search and gather the data about Big Ben. Then he has the knowledge about the Beg Ben history and how it built,  it’s surrounded things etc. Yet he have not seen it actually. Now he wanted to see it live and  he starts his journey to the Big Ben to see it live. He searched from the google the exact path from home to Big Ben.

Once prepared everything and fully  aware about the path he has to take the plane to London and from there by bus or taxi or whatsoever, as he planned because he new the road. He may have kept some road marks or signboards to identify the exact road. Nowadays,  that can be done using Google map. Once he reached the exact place he can see the Big Ben. Oh its a very big historic Clock Tower.  He reached his target.]

Similarly, on your way to Nibbana, You need to search  these Chittha, Chaithisika, Rupa.  Once you learned and fully aware about the road, the next you need to find the way to reach to Nibbana which is meditation[40 ways of meditation called “sama sathalis karmasthana’]. Then you start your journey to reach that place step by step using your vipassana meditation. It is longway lengthy process has to learn step by step. Only thing you need to start your journey somewhere  where you are now.

100 Steps Journey

Suppose if we assume as it is hundred steps journey and you already started by keeping the First step and it allows you to keep the second step. It means you reached to Nibbana in two steps and left with another 98.  Somehow, you need to start from the place where you are now and  keeps on walking forward until you complete the 100th step journey. 

Ultimate Realities
Next lesson Mental Factors

01. Was this article about “Matters” helpful for you? 
02. What would you like to know more in Buddhism?
03. How can we help you on this context?

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