Monday, January 21, 2008

Body Elements

Ok, six more elements to go! lus is body (Sanskrit kaya), kyi is the genitive particle that binds right to left and khams is element. So this is the body element (kaya-dhatu.)

reg bya is touch or tangibility, the 'i is again the genitive particle, binding this to khams, so this is the tangibility element (sprastavya-dhatu).

lus is (as earlier) body, rnam par shes pa is consciousness, so this all is the body consciousness element (kaya-vijnana-dhatu.)

Later Abhidharma-Samuccaya will have a definition what touch really is, so that will be interesting.

I think you have grasped the Sanskrit also by now, so now you could show your talent and know what for example kaya-vijnana-dhatu really is, based on knowing each of these three separate words!

Next, a somewhat surprising set of elements.

9 comments:

FG said...

This is an amazing blog - you're doing a great job with it!

I have looked around on the web and am having trouble finding a good source that teaches both the alphabet and the correct pronunciation for Tibetan. Could you recommend any resources with audio?

Thanks in advance!

Kent Sandvik said...

Try to do a Google search, I've seen several online tutorials teaching the alphabet and pronunciation.

Also, the Translating Buddhism from Tibetan has information about the letters, and there's a tape or a CD with pronunciation help for this book.

I deliberately left out this part in this blog of many reasons: there are other excellent resources out there for the alphabet, and my skills with the Tibetan pronunciation are not that special, so it's better to learn from some really good sources.

So I instead focused on the classical approach of showing language and word patterns -- over and over again -- and this way get the translation memes in place for anyone who wants to read Tibetan texts. It's indeed doable, just takes practice (like learning to play the guitar.)

FG said...

Ok, I've now learnt the alphabet and the pronunciation at www.learntibetan.net - the best one I've found so far, although they've taken a few shortcuts and forgotten to explain a couple of rules, it seems. Pronunciation is quite different from the spelling and there are plenty of exceptions... The Wylie transcription is very misleading but I suppose with practice it becomes possible to read and pronounce correctly.

Your blog is truly excellent but in a way is devoid of any context - I was hoping to read in the FAQ more about you as a person and more about the need underlying this teaching, or is it self-explanatory for anyone with an interest in Buddhism?

Kent Sandvik said...

Yes, there is not really a standard way to define the pronunciation of Tibetan. It even differs between dialects. I think the best way to learn spoken Tibetan is to spend time with the Tibetans.

As for the context. The blog has had themes over time. Believe it or not, for a long time now we have dealt with the four noble truths, and we are still in the third one, to define that it is indeed possible to become free from suffering and reach full enlightenment. That's why we are going through the basic stuff of mind and mental functions just now, and for a long time. The idea behind Abhidharma-Samuccaya is to show that even those parts are not self-existent. It means you could do anything with them, including purify your perception and mind, and reach extra-ordinary levels of mind.

But I will sneak in some other material from time to time, so we are not always walking through a valley of dry bones *).

*)Heard that once about the study of Abhidharma.

Kent Sandvik said...

Oh, me as a person? I'm just a very stupid practitioner...

FG said...

Great! I am more interested in the language at this moment, to be honest but I'm very open for any additional knowledge the language can lead me to. So I'll be following the blog!

Kent Sandvik said...

Yes, you will get a taste of how systematic the mapping of the mind is in the Buddhist world view, it tries to explain everything that someone experiences based on what's happening inside the mind, not outside.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kent really appreciate your blog - something that is much appreciated by many aspiring classical tibetan students-i have been recomending it to friend worldwide - keep up the great work!
best wishes
Caroline

Kent Sandvik said...

Thanks for the kind words.

My biggest problem just now is to find enough time to work on this blog. Sometimes I have plenty of time, sometimes not, hence the spotty postings recently. --Kent