Fundamental Characteristics of Nonrevealing Forms in Vaibhashika

Karmic impulses of the body and speech include both revealing forms and nonrevealing forms. What are nonrevealing forms and what are their characteristic properties?

Nonrevealing Forms Are Exclusively Constructive or Destructive 

Vasubandhu affirms in A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge, Put in Verses (I.2a) (Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod-kyi tshig-0le’ur byas-pa, Skt. Abhidharmakośa-kārikā) (Gretil ed., Derge Tengyur vol. 140, 10B):

They (karmic impulses in actions of body and speech include) a revealing (form) and a nonrevealing (form). 
(Skt.) te tu vijñaptyavijñaptī 
(Tib.) /de dag rnam rig rnam rig min/

Unlike a revealing form, however, which may be constructive, destructive or unspecified, a nonrevealing form is exclusively constructive or destructive. As Vasubandhu states in Treasure House (IV.7a) (Gretil, Derge 11A):

A nonrevealing (forms) is never unspecified.
(Skt.) nāvyākṛtāstyavijñaptiḥ
(Tib.) /rnam rig min lung bstan min med/

Nonrevealing Forms Function as Karmic Agents But Do Not Reveal the Ethical Status of the Mind That Causes Them to Arise 

Vasubandhu further states in Treasure House (I.11) (Gretil, Derge 2A):

That which is even in someone (whose mind) has strayed or without a mind, which has continuity, which is lustrous or not lustrous (Tib.: constructive or destructive), and which has depended upon (Tib.: taken as their causes) great elements, was spoken of, in fact, as a nonrevealing (form).
(Skt.) vikṣiptācittakasyāpi yo 'nubandhaḥ śubhāśubhaḥ / mahābhūtānyupādāya sa hyavijñaptirucyate // 
(Tib.) /g.yengs dang sems med pa yi yang / /dge dang mi dge rjes 'brel gang / /'byung ba che rnams rgyur byas pa/ /de ni rnam rig byed min brjod/ 

Vasubandhu makes several points about nonrevealing forms in this verse. Let’s unpack them one by one.

Vasubandhu explains in his Autocommentary to “A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge” (Skt. Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣyā, Tib. Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod-kyi bshad-pa) Gretil ed. 8.07-09, Derge vol. 140, 31B):

The word “in fact,” in “was spoken of, in fact, as a nonrevealing (form)” (indicates) that its name (“nonrevealing”) has a meaning that makes its functioning (byed-pa, Skt. karaṇa) known. While also being something with the functional nature (rang-bzhin, Skt. svabhāva) of a form of physical phenomenon and a (karmic) agent (bya-ba, Skt. kriyā), it does not make known to others (the ethical status of the consciousness that causes it to arise) as a revealing (form does), and so it is a nonrevealing form. “Was spoken of ” shows that this was indicated by the (Vaibhashika) learned spiritual masters. 
(Skt.) / sa hyavijñaptiriti hiśabdastannāmakaraṇavijñāpanārthaḥ / rūpakriyāsvabhāvāpi satī vijñaptivat paraṃ na vijñāpayatītyavijñaptiḥ / ucyata iti ācāryavacanaṃ darśayati /
(Tib.) /de ni rnam rig byed min zhes bya ba la/ de ni zhes bya ba'i sgra ni de'i ming shes par bya ba'i phyir te/ gzugs dang byed pa'i rang bzhin yin yang rnam par rig byed bzhin du gzhan dag la rnam par rig par byed pa ma yin pas rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'o/ / brjed ces bya ba ni slob dpon gyi tshig yin par ston pa'o/

Jinaputra Yashomitra further explains in The Clarified Meaning, An Explanatory Commentary on (Vasubandhu’s) “Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge” (Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod kyi ‘grel-bshad don-gsal-ba, Skt. Sphuṭārtha Abhidharmakośavyākhyā) (Gretil ed., Derge Tengyur vol. 143, 25B-26A):

“Its name (the name “nonrevealing form”) has a meaning that makes its functioning known,” because, while also being something with the functional nature of a form of physical phenomenon and a (karmic) agent, it does not make known to others (the ethical status of the consciousness that causes it to arise) as a revealing (form does). Because of that, “it is a nonrevealing form” – that is the meaning.
(As for its being) “something that has the functional nature of being a form of physical phenomenon and a (karmic) agent,” what is the purpose of saying that it is something having the characteristics of both? (It is because there are three other permutations of these variables. There can be):
[1] A phenomenon (dngos-po, Skt. vastu) that has the functional nature of a form of physical phenomenon, but not the functional nature of a (karmic) agent, and which does not convey (something) to others, like the eye (sensors) and so on
[2] Something that has the functional nature of a (karmic) agent, but not the functional nature of a form of physical phenomenon, and which does not convey (something) to others, like (the mental factor of) an urge
[3] Something that, in fact, has the functional nature of both and which does convey something to others, like a revealing (form).
A revealing (form) is, in fact, something that makes known to others that the mind that causes it to arise (motivates it) is “constructive, destructive or unspecified; gentle, cruel or neither.” “As a revealing (form does)” is the application of an example that is the opposite.
(Skt.) tannāmakaraṇajñāpanārtha iti. yasmād rūpakriyāsvabhāvāpi satī vijñaptivat paraṃ na vijñāpayati. tasmād avijñaptir ity arthaḥ. rūpakriyāsvabhāvāpīty ubhayaviśāṣaṇaṃ. kim arthaṃ. yad dhi vastu rūpasvabhāvam eva na kṛiyāsvabhāvaṃ. tan na paraṃ gamayati. tadyathā cakṣurādayaḥ. yad api kriyāsvabhāvam eva na rūpasvabhāvaṃ. tad api paraṃ na gamayati. tadyathā cetanā. yat tūbhayasvabhāvaṃ. tat paraṃ gamayati. tadyathā vijñaptiḥ. vijñaptir hi svasamutthāpakaṃ cittaṃ kuśalākuśalāvyākṛtaṃ saumyaṃ krūram anubhayam iti vā paraṃ vijñāpayati. tena vijñaptivad iti viparītadṛṣṭāntaprayogaḥ.
(Tib.) /de'i ming shes par bya ba'i phyir te zhes bya ba ni gang gi phyir gzugs dang byed pa'i rang bzhin yin/ /yang rnam par rig byed bzhin du gzhan dag la rnam par rig par byed pa ma yin pa/ de'i phyir rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'o zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /ci'i phyir gzugs dang byed pa'i rang bzhin yin yang zhes bya ba khyad par gnyi ga smos she na/ dngos po gang zhig gzugs kyi rang bzhin kho na yin zhing byed pa'i rang bzhin ma yin la de yang gzhan la go bar mi byed pa yang yod de/ dper na mig la sogs pa lta bu'o/ /gang zhig byed pa'i rang bzhin kho na yin zhing gzugs kyi rang bzhin ma yin la de yang gzhan la go bar mi byed pa yang yod de/ dper na sems pa lta bu'o/ /gang zhig gnyi ga'i rang bzhin yin la de yang gzhan la go bar byed pa yang yod de/ dper na rnam par rig byed lta bu'o/ /rnam par rig byed ni rang kun nas slong bar byed pa dge ba dang mi dge ba 'am/ lung du ma bstan pa 'am nges pa 'am khro ba 'am gnyi ga ma yin pa zhes bya ba gzhan la rnam par rig par byed de/ de'i phyir rnam par rig byed bzhin du zhes bzlog pa'i dpe sbyor ba yin no/

A nonrevealing form, then, for example a pratimoksha vowed restraint of a monk or a nun, like a revealing form, is a karmic agent. How does it function as a karmic agent in comparison with a revealing form? 

  • A revealing form functions as a karmic agent in the sense that it is a method implemented for causing a karmic action of the body or speech to take place. Examples are the shape of the body kneeling and the sound of the voice repeating the words of a promise as the methods implemented for causing the karmic actions of body and speech to occur for obtaining a pratimoksha vowed restraint of a monk or nun. 
  • A nonrevealing form – the pratimoksha vowed restraint itself – functions as a karmic agent in the sense that, in obtaining the vow, then in every subsequent moment until it is relinquished, the nonrevealing form causes the karmic actions of the body and speech to occur of not committing the actions of body and speech that one has vowed to abstain from. 

An analogy merely on the physiological level, not the karmic level, that might make the functioning of the two aspects of karmic impulses of the body easier to understand is the shape of someone’s ankle when they sprain it (analogous to a revealing form) and the injury (analogous to a nonrevealing form) that subsequently causes the person to limp until their inflamed ankle heals. This is only an analogy, however, not an example of a revealing and a nonrevealing form, because the shape of someone’s ankle when spraining it merely indicates that they were not careful (an unspecified state of mind, neither constructive nor destructive) and only constructive or destructive revealing forms generate nonrevealing forms. Nevertheless, this analogy illustrates how a momentary impulse of the body, like one that causes someone to step in such a way that they twist their ankle, gives rise to an injury, and how the physical phenomenon of an injury, as a stream of impulses of the body, subsequently causes the person to walk with a limp. 

Nonrevealing Forms Arise Simultaneously with Revealing Forms or a Deep State of Absorbed Concentration

How do nonrevealing forms arise? Vasubandhu continues in Autocommentary (Gretil 8.09-10, Derge 31B):

In short, a nonrevealing (form) must be a constructive or destructive form of physical phenomenon that has come into existence with a revealing (form) or a (state of) absorbed concentration. 
(Skt.) samāsatastu vijñaptisamādhisaṃbhūtaṃ kuśalākuśalaṃ rūpamavijñaptiḥ /
(Tib.) /mdor na rnam par rig byed dang ting nge 'dzin las byung ba'i gzugs dge ba dang mi dge ba ni rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'o/ 

All nonrevealing forms arise simultaneously with either a revealing form or a state of absorbed concentration (ting-nge-‘dzin, Skt. samādhi), but not every revealing form arises simultaneously with a nonrevealing form – for instance, an unspecified revealing form. This is because the nonrevealing form must have the same ethical status as the revealing form with which it arises and, since nonrevealing forms are never unspecified, unspecified revealing forms do not give rise to nonrevealing forms.

As Jinaputra Yashomitra explains (Gretil ed., Derge 26A): 

“In short” (means) that, for the sake of (making) the extensive (presentation) easily understood by disciples, the learned spiritual master (Vasubandhu) is indicating, with a reduced (number of) words, (what) a nonrevealing (form is.) “A nonrevealing (form must be) a constructive or destructive form of physical phenomenon that has come into existence with a revealing (form) or a (deep state of) absorbed concentration” (means that the ethical status of) this (nonrevealing form) is to be applied in accord with what it (the nonrevealing form) comes into existence with (namely, the revealing form or the deep state of absorbed concentration). 
[1] A constructive (nonrevealing form) that has come into existence with a revealing (form) of the body and speech is one that has been received as a pratimoksha vowed restrain, as well as one received as (a constructive intermediate nonrevealing form that is) neither a vowed restraint nor an avowed nonrestraint. 
[2] On the other hand, a destructive (one) is one that has been received as an avowed nonrestraint, as well as one received as (a destructive intermediate nonrevealing form that is) neither a vowed restraint nor an avowed nonrestraint.  
One that has come into existence with (a state of) absorbed concentration is only constructive. It is of two types:
[3] One that has come into existence with a tainted (state of) absorbed concentration is one that comes into existence as a restraint from mental constancy.
[4] One that has come into existence with an untainted (state of) absorbed concentration is one that comes into existence as a restraint from an untainted state.
And as for what it (the nonrevealing form of a state of absorbed concentration) is obtained from, (it is from what is) in “the functional nature of a mind or mental factor that is not in the functional nature of a form of physical phenomenon” is what is being conveyed (thus differentiating this type of nonrevealing from that of a pratimoksha vowed restraint).
(Skt.) samāsatas tv iti vistaraḥ. śiṣyasukhāvabodhārthaṃ saṃkṣepato vākyena tad avijñaptirūpaṃ darśayaty ācāryaḥ. vijñaptisamādhisaṃbhūtaṃ kuśalākuśalaṃ rūpam avijñaptir iti. yathāsaṃbhavam etat yojyaṃ. kāyavākvijñaptisaṃbhūtaṃ kuśalaṃ prātimokṣasaṃvarasaṃgṛhītaṃ naivasaṃvaranāsaṃvarasaṃgṛhītaṃ ca. akuśalaṃ punar asaṃvarasaṃgṛhītaṃ naivasaṃvaranāsaṃvarasaṃgṛhītaṃ ca. samādhisaṃbhūtaṃ tu kuśalam eva. tad dvividhaṃ. sāsravasamādhisaṃbhūtaṃ dhyānasaṃvarasvabhāvaṃ. anāsravasamādhisaṃbhūtaṃ anāsravasaṃvarasvabhāvaṃ. upādāyarūpasvabhāvaṃ ca. na cittacaitasikādisvabhāvam ity avagantavyaṃ. 
(Tib.) /mdor na zhes bya ba rgyas par 'byung ba ni slob dpon gyis slob ma bde blag tu khong du chud par bya ba'i phyir tshig mdor bsdus pas rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i gzugs de ston par byed pa yin no/ /rnam par rig byed dang ting nge 'dzin las byung ba'i gzugs dge ba dang mi dge ba ni rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i zhes bya ba 'di ni ci rigs par sbyar bar bya'o/ /dge ba ni lus dang ngag gi rnam par rig byed las byung ba so sor thar pa'i sdom pas bsdus pa dang sdom pa la yang ma yin sdom pa ma yin pa yang ma yin pas bsdus pa yin no/ /mi dge ba ni sdom pa ma yin pas bsdus pa ni sdom pa ma yang ma yin sdom pa ma yin pa yang ma yin pas bsdus pa yin no/ /ting nge 'dzin las byung ba ni dge ba kho na yin la de yang rnam pa gnyis te/ zag pa dang bcas pa'i ting nge 'dzin las byung ba ni bsam gtan gyi sdom pa'i ngo bo nyid yin la/ zag pa med pa'i ting nge 'dzin las byung ba ni zag pa med pa'i sdom pa'i ngo bo nyid yin te/ rgyur byas pa'i gzugs kyi ngo bo nyid yin gyi sems dang sems las byung ba la sogs pa'i ngo bo nyid ni ma yin no zhes bya bar khong du chud par bya'o/

There are three types of nonrevealing forms that arise simultaneously with a revealing form: 

  • A vowed restraint (sdom-pa, Skt. saṃvara) – for instance, the lifelong pratimoksha vow (so-thar sdom-pa, Skt. pratimokṣasaṃvara) of a monk or nun
  • An avowed nonrestraint (sdom-pa ma-yin-pa, Skt. asaṃvara) – a vow not to refrain from a destructive action, such as taking the life of fish, when one is born in the caste of fishermen and promises to follow this profession for one’s entire life
  • An intermediate (bar-ma, Skt. madhya) nonrevealing form – for example, the promise to prostrate three times each day upon waking and upon going to sleep or the oath to shoot the enemy while serving in the military.

There are two types of nonrevealing forms that arise simultaneously with a state of absorbed concentration – and not simultaneously with a revealing form – and which, together with vowed restraints, constitute the three types of restraints (sdom-pa, Skt. saṃvara): 

  • A restraint that comes from a tainted state of absorbed concentration (zag-bcas ting-nge-‘dzin, Skt. sāsravasamādhi) – namely, a restraint from mental constancy (bsam-gtan-gyi sdom-pa, Skt. dhyānasaṃvara). Such a restraint is a temporary blockage of destructive behavior and the disturbing emotions that cause such behavior to arise, which is obtained with the attainment of a preparatory or actual state of one of the four levels of mental constancy (the four dhyanas).
  • A restraint that comes from an untainted state of absorbed concentration (zag-med ting-nge-‘dzin, Skt. anāsravasamādhi) – namely, a restraint from an untainted state (zag-med-kyi sdom-pa, Skt. anāsravasaṃvara). Such a restraint is a lasting blockage of destructive behavior and the disturbing emotions and attitudes that cause such behavior to arise, which is obtained with the attainment of an arya pathway of mind.    

Nonrevealing Forms Are Not Situated Anywhere and Are Not Made of Particles

Furthermore, a nonrevealing form is nonmaterial and therefore is not situated anywhere in the body. Vasubandhu states in Autocommentary (Gretil 112.01-03, Derge 109A):

Something that does not abide on the plane of formless beings can be something that abides among nonmaterial phenomena. It is certain, however, that “no-longer-happening, not-yet-happening and nonrevealing forms are (nonmaterial) phenomena that are not situated in (some) location.” 
(Skt.) ārūpyadhāturasthānaḥ nahyarūpiṇāṃ dharmānāṃ sthānamasti / atītānāgatā vijñaptyarūpiṇo hi dharmā ādeśasthā iti niyamaḥ /
(Tib.) /gzugs med khams na gnas med do/ /chos gzugs can ma yin pa rnams la ni gnas med de/ 'das pa dang / ma 'ongs pa dang / rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dang/ chos gzugs can ma yin pa rnams ni yul na mi gnas zhes bya bar nges pa yin no/ 

Jinamitra Yashomitra clarifies (Gretil ed., Derge 244B): 

Concerning “no-longer-happening, not-yet-happening and nonrevealing forms are phenomena are not situated in (some) location,” no-longer-happening and not-yet-happening (forms) are indeed phenomena possessing a form, but they are not situated in (some) location. A nonrevealing (form) is (also) a phenomenon possessing a form and although it is presently happening, it (too) is not situated in (some) location. If even phenomena not possessing a form, like feelings and so on, are presently happening and yet are not situated in (some) location, what need to mention no-longer-happening and not-yet-happening (forms)?  
(Skt.) /atītānāgatāvijñaptyarūpiṇo hi dharmā adeśasthā iti. atītanāgatā rūpiṇo 'py adeśasthāḥ. avijñaptiḥ rūpiṇī vartamānāpy adeśasthā. arūpiṇo vedanādayas tathaiva vartamānā apy adeśasthāḥ. kiṃ aṃgātītānāgatāḥ.
(Tib.) /'das pa dang ma 'ongs pa dang rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dang / chos gzugs can ma yin pa rnams ni yul na mi gnas zhes bya ba ni 'das pa dang ma 'ongs pa ni gzugs can dag kyang yul na mi gnas so / rnam par rig byed ma yin pa ni gzugs can yin la/ da ltar gyi dag kyang yul na mi gnas la/ gzugs can ma yin pa tshor ba la sogs pa yang de bzhin du da ltar gyi dag yin yang yul na mi gnas na/ 'das pa dang ma 'ongs pa rnams lta smos kyang ci dgos so/ 

Chim Jampeyang clarifies this further in A Commentary to “A Treasure House (of Special Topics of Knowledge)”: A Filigree of Abhidharma (Chos mngon-mdzod-kyi tshig-le’ur byas-pa’i’grel-pa mngon-pa’i rgyan) (Sera Je Library ed. 37):

Some explain, “Vaibhashika asserts that nonrevealing forms pervade the entire (ripened) body like a fire in a forest,” but this is incorrect….  This is because, since nonrevealing forms are not a form of physical phenomenon that is a composite of particles, it is explained that they do not abide in any location like (phenomena on the plane of) formless (beings). Therefore, (this assertion falsely attributed to the Vaibhashika position) is simply confusing nonrevealing (forms) with revealing forms of the body.    
(Tib.) kha cig ni rnam par rig byed ma yin pa’i gzugs nags la me zhugs pa ltar lus thams cad la khyab par gnas par bye brag tu smra ba ‘dod do zhes ‘chad pa ni mi rigs te/ … rdul phran bsags pa’i gzugs ma yin pas gzugs med ltar yul gang na’ang mi gnas par bshad pa’i phyir ro/ des na ‘di ni lus kyi rig byed la rig byed ma yin par ‘khrul ba kho nar zad do/ 

As explained in a previous part of this series, a revealing form of the body pervades the entire ripened body, but not in the sense of its particles occupying the same location as the particles of the ripened body do, but rather in the sense of its particles pervading the interstitial space in between the particles of the ripened body, like a fire pervading the space between the trees in a forest. The false assertion that nonrevealing forms pervade the entire body as a forest fire does in a forest, then, is mistakenly attributing to nonrevealing forms a characteristic of revealing forms.

Nonrevealing Forms Continue to Remain Even When the Mind Has Strayed

Vasubandhu explains further points of Treasure House (I.11), cited above, in his Autocommentary (Gretil 8.03-05, Derge 31B):

“In someone whose mind has strayed” (means) even in someone whose mind is other than that. “In someone without a mind” (means) in someone deeply absorbed in the meditative attainment from a balanced absorption on non-distinguishing or the meditative attainment from a balanced absorption on cessation. With the word “even,” one can know (that it is) even in someone whose mind has not strayed. “Which has continuity” (means) a continuous flow. “Lustrous or not lustrous” [Tib.: constructive or destructive] (means) constructive or destructive [Tib.: excellent or not excellent]. 
(Skt.) vikṣiptacittakasyeti tadanyacittasyāpi // acittakasyāpītyasaṃjñinirodhasamāpattisamāpannasyāpi / apiśabdenāvikṣiptasacittasyāpīti vijñāyate / yo 'nu bandha iti yaḥ pravāhaḥ / śubhāśubha iti kuśalākuśalaḥ /
(Tib.) /sems g.yengs pa zhes bya ba ni de las gzhan pa'i sems kyi yang yin pa'o/ /sems med pa'i yang zhes bya ba ni 'du shes med pa dang / 'gog pa'i snyoms par 'jug pa'i yang yin pa'o/ /yang zhes bya ba'i sgras ni ma g.yengs pa sems dang bcas pa'i yang yin no zhes bya bar mngon no/ /dge dang mi dge zhes bya ba ni dge legs dang dge legs ma yin ba'o| /rjes 'brel gang zhes bya ba ni rgyun to/

A meditative attainment of a balanced absorption on non-distinguishing (‘du-shes med-pa’i snyoms-‘jug, Skt. saṃjñisamāpatti) is the temporary blockage of gross consciousness, gross feelings and gross distinguishing during the meditative attainment of a balanced absorption on non-distinguishing (‘du-shes med-pa’i snyoms-‘jug, Skt. saṃjñisamāpatti). During a meditative attainment of a balanced absorption on cessation (‘gog-pa’i snyoms-‘jug, Skt. nirodhasamāpatti), one attains, in addition,  a temporary blockage of gross disturbing emotions. 

Jinaputra Yashomitra (Gretil ed., Derge 25A-B) further clarifies: 

“In someone whose mind has strayed (means) even in someone whose mind is other than that” has the meaning, “in someone whose mind is other than that of a mind that has not strayed.” It is like this: A mind that is one that causes (motivates) a constructive nonrevealing (form) to arise is constructive. A mind that is other than that is a destructive or unspecified mind. That is what is meant here as “a mind that has strayed.” Also, a mind that is one that causes (motivates) a destructive nonrevealing (form) to arise is destructive. A mind that is other than that is a constructive or unspecified mind. That too, in fact, must be known as a mind that has strayed.
(Skt.) vikṣiptacittasyeti tadanyacittasyāpīti avikṣiptacittād anyacittasyety arthaḥ. tadyathā kuśalāyā avijñapteḥ samutthāpakaṃ cittaṃ kuśalaṃ. tadanyacitto 'kuśalāvyākṛtacittaḥ. sa iha vikṣiptacitto 'bhipretaḥ. akuśalāyās tv avijñapter akuśalaṃ cittaṃ samutthāpakaṃ. tadanyacittaḥ kuśalāvyākṛtacittaḥ. sa cāpi vikṣiptacitto veditavyaḥ.
(Tib.) /sems g.yengs pa zhes bya ba ni de las gzhan pa'i sems kyi yang yin pa'o zhes bya ba ni rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i sems las gzhan pa'i sems kyi yin pa zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /'di lta ste dge ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa kun nas slong bar byed pa'i sems ni dge ba yin la/ de las gzhan pa'i sems ni mi dge ba'i sems dang lung du ma bstan pa'i sems yin te 'dir sems g.yengs pa ni de yin par bsams pa yin no/ /mi dge ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa kun nas slong bar byed pa'i sems ni mi dge ba yin la de las gzhan pa'i sems ni dge ba dang lung du ma bstan pa'i sems yin la 'dir yang sems g.yengs ba ni de yin par rig bar bya ste de las gzhan pa'i sems de'i yang yin no/

Until a pratimoksha vowed restraint or a constructive intermediate nonrevealing form is relinquished by one of several methods that will be discussed in a later part of this series, it remains on someone’s continuum, even when something destructive or unspecified arises in their mind. Likewise, an avowed nonrestraint or a destructive intermediate nonrevealing form remains on someone’s continuum, even when something constructive or unspecified arises in their mind. 

A restraint from mental constancy lasts only so long as the mind remains absorbed in that state. During that time while there is a temporary blockage of destructive actions and disturbing emotions, the mind cannot stray from being constructive. When one arises from the state of absorption, the restraint from mental constancy is lost and destructive actions and disturbing emotions arise once more.

A restraint from an untainted state lasts all the way to the attainment of liberation with becoming an arhat. It only ends, according to Vaibhashika, when the mental continuum extinguishes with the attainment of parinirvana at the end of that lifetime as an arhat. Since there is a true stopping (true cessation) of destructive actions and disturbing emotions during that period, the mind cannot stray from being constructive.

Unlike Acquisitions, Nonrevealing Forms (Arise) Having Depended on Great Elements as Their Generating Cause

Vasubandhu continues his explanation of verse I.11, Autocommentary (Gretil 8.05-07, Derge 31B):

“Even the continuous flow of an acquisition is like this: in (it too) being constructive or destructive.” But it (a nonrevealing form) is spoken of as something with a meaning that is distinct from that (acquisition, namely) as “something having depended on great elements.” (Sautrantikas object, saying,) Vaibhashikas claim that the meaning of “having depended on (something) (rgyur-byas-pa, Skt. upādāya)” is (the same as) the meaning of “(having had something) as its cause (rgyu, Skt. hetu),” because of the existence (of great elements) as its generating and so on cause [Tib.: because of (the great elements having) the essential nature of being the generating and so on cause (of something)].
(Skt.) / kuśalākuśale prāptipravāho 'pyastīdṛśa iti tadviśeṣaṇārthamucyate mahābhūtānyupādāyeti / hetvartha upādāyārtha iti vaibhāṣikāḥ / jananādihetubhāvāt
(Tib.) /thob pa'i rgyun yang 'di lta bu yod pas bye brag tu bya ba'i phyir/ 'byung ba che rnams rgyur byas pa/ /zhes bya ba brjod do/ /bye brag tu smra ba rnams na re rgyur byas pa'i don ni rgyu'i don to/ /skyed pa la sogs pa rgyu'i ngo bo nyid yin pa'i phyir ro zhes zer ro/

An acquisition (thob-pa, Skt. prāpti), such as the acquisition of a nonrevealing form, is a noncongruent affecting variable (ldan-min ‘du-byed, Skt. viprayuktasaṃskāra) – a nonstatic phenomenon that is neither a form of physical phenomenon nor a way of being aware of something. Like a constructive or destructive nonrevealing form, the acquisition of such a form is likewise constructive or destructive and also has a continuous, uninterrupted flow. Nevertheless, unlike a nonrevealing form, an acquisition is not something that arises having depended on the four great elements – earth, water, fire and wind – as its generating cause (skyed-pa’i rgyu, Skt. jananahetu). For example, the acquisitions of the meditative attainments from balanced absorptions on non-distinguishing and on cessation arise having depended on the mental consciousness and accompanying mental factors of those states of balanced absorptions as their generating cause. 

“Because of the existence (of great elements) as its generating and so on cause” indicates with the word “and so on” that the great elements serve as several types of causes for nonrevealing forms besides being their generating cause. These additional causes will be explained in the next part of this series. 

The Sanskrit gerund “upādāya,” in the expression “something having depended on (great elements as its generating and so cause),” is translated into Tibetan as rgyur-byas-pa, which means “something having taken as its cause (great elements as its generating and so on cause).” The Tibetan translation of the term makes the connotation of the Sanskrit term explicit.  

Sautrantika does not accept the existence of nonrevealing forms and therefore does not accept that they have great elements as their generating and so on cause. 

Jinaputra Yashomitra (Gretil 29, Derge 25B) clarifies further:  

“Even the continuous flow of an acquisition is like this” (means) even an acquisition, having a continuous flow even in a mind that has strayed or not strayed is, likewise, constructive or destructive.”  But it (a nonrevealing form) is spoken of as something with a meaning that is distinct from that (acquisition) – (namely), as “something that (arises) having depended on [Tib.: having taken as its cause] great elements,” (which means) as something that has great elements as its cause.” As in the case of the expression, “Fire comes to exist having depended on [Tib.: having taken as its cause] kindling,” it conveys, “Fire is something that has kindling as its cause.” 
(Skt.) prāptipravāho 'py asti īdṛśa iti. tatprāptir api vikṣiptāvikṣiptacittasyāpi pravāhiṇī kuśalākuśalaiva ceti tadviśeṣaṇārtham ucyate. mahābhūtāny upādāyeti. mahābhūtahetuka ity arthaḥ. yathendhanam upādāyāgnir bhavatīty ukte. indhanahetuko 'gnir iti gamyate.
(Tib.) /thob pa'i rgyun yang 'di lta bu yod pas zhes bya ba ni de'i thob pa yang g.yengs pa dang sems med pa las yang rgyun chags pa yin la/ dge ba dang mi dge ba nyid kyang yin pas de las khyad par du bya ba'i phyir/ 'byung ba che rnams rgyur byas pa/ /zhes bya ba smos te/ 'byung ba chen po rgyu las byung ba zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /dper na bud shing rgyur byas nas me 'byung ngo zhes byas na bud shing gi rgyu las byung ba'i me zhes bya bar go ba dang 'dra'o/ 

Nonrevealing Forms and Revealing Forms Do Not Arise Dependently on the Same Set of Great Elements 

In Autocommentary (Gretil 199.10-14, Derge 172A), Vasubandhu also explains:

In detail, (Sautrantikas object, saying) Vaibhashikas (claim) in vain that a nonrevealing form is in fact a separate substantial entity. If that is the case, then if you explain that it is something that depends on [Tib.: takes as its cause] great elements (for its arising), then does a nonrevealing (form) arise as something that depends on [Tib.: takes as its cause] only one (set of) great elements – those that the revealing (form) in fact depends on – or on another (set of great elements)? 
[Tib. adds: It is not (the first case).] It is only by each depending on other (sets of) great elements that it (a nonrevealing form) arises. A set (of great elements) itself cannot be connected to a subtle result and a coarse result [Tib.: It is inappropriate that a set (of great elements) itself has a subtle result and a coarse result.] 
(Skt.) alaṃ vistareṇāstyeva dravyāntaramavijñaptirūpati vaibhāṣikāḥ / yadyasti tacca mahābhūtānyupādāyetyuktam tat kim vijñaptimahābhūtānyevopādāyāvijñaptirutpadyate athānyāni / anyānyeva sā mahābhūtānyupādāyotpadyate / na hi saiva sāmagrī sukṣmaphalā caudārikaphālā ca yujyate /
(Tib.) /bye brag tu smra ba rnams na re rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i gzugs rdzas gzhan kho nar yod do zhes zer ro/ /gal te yod la de yang 'byung ba chen po dag rgyur byas pa yin no zhes bshad na de ci rnam par rig byed kyi 'byung ba dag kho na rgyur byas nas rnam par rig byed ma yin pa skye ba'am/ 'on te gzhan dag kyang yin zhe na/ smras pa/ ma yin no/ /de ni 'byung ba chen po gzhan dang gzhan dag kho na rgyur byas nas skye bar 'gyur te/ tshogs pa de nyid 'bras bu phra mo can yang yin la/ 'bras bu rags pa can yang yin par ni mi rung ngo / 

Sthiramati explains in The Meaning of the Facts, An Annotated Subcommentary to (Vasubandhu’s) “Autocommentary to ‘A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge’ (Chos mngon-pa mdzod-kyi bshad-pa'i rgya-cher ‘grel-pa don-gyi de-kho-na-nyid, Skt. Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣyā-ṭīkā-tattvārtha) (Derge Tengyur vol. 210, 18A):

As for “a set (of great elements) itself,” (this refers to) the four great elements of earth and so on. Concerning “a subtle result,” because nonrevealing (forms) are invisible and do not impede (the presence or motion of material phenomena), they are subtle. The earth (element) in revealing forms does impede (the presence and motion of material phenomena).   
(Tib.) /tshogs pa de nyid la zhes bya ba ni/ sa la sogs pa 'byung ba bzhi'o/ /'bras bu phra mo zhes bya ba la/ rnam par rig byed ma yin pa ni bstan du med cing thogs pa med pa'i phyir phra mo yin la/ sa rnam par rig byed ni thogs pa dang bcas pa yin no/ 

Chim Jampeyang explains in A Commentary to “A Treasure House (of Special Topics of Knowledge)”: A Filigree of Abhidharma (Chos mngon-mdzod-kyi tshig-le’ur byas-pa’i’grel-pa mngon-pa’i rgyan) (Sera Je Library ed., 48):

Further, the difference between coarse and subtle (forms of physical phenomena arises) from whether they depend on particles and so on as what they depend on….  Coarse and subtle (forms of physical phenomena) have, (respectively, one of) the five sensory (cognitive sensors, which is made of particles) as what they rely on (for being cognized or a mental (sensor, which is not made of particles) as their reliance (for being cognized). Or it is explained, “(Their difference) is to be known from their functions.”  
(Tib.) yang na rdul la sogs-pa ltos-pa la ltos-nas phra rags su gzhan no… rags pa dang phra ba ni dbang po lnga la brten pa dang yid la rten pa’am/ yang na las las rig par bya’o zhes ‘chad do /

Here, particles that they depend on (ltos-pa) refer to particles that they depend on as their components. Coarse forms are made of particles of the four great elements, while subtle forms are not made of such particles. 

Despite coarse and subtle forms of physical phenomena differing in terms of whether they are comprised of particles and whether they rely on a cognitive sensor that is made of particles in order to be cognized, they both arise by depending on something having particles as their generating and so on cause.

Chim Jampeyang (301) summarizes and then answers Vasubandhu’s question regarding whether a coarse form of physical phenomenon (a revealing form) and a subtle one (a nonrevealing form) simultaneously arise from the same set of great elements (namely, the same set of particles) since the two forms of physical phenomena arise simultaneously with each other.   

Suppose you ask, “If you accept that a nonrevealing form indeed exists as a substantial entity and that it depends on the four elements (as its generating cause), then does it arise just from (the four elements that are) the generating (cause) of the revealing form (with which it simultaneously arises) or does it arise from (four elements that are) different from the generating (cause) of the revealing form?” 
Because nonrevealing forms are invisible and do not impede (the presence and motion of material phenomena), they are subtle (forms of physical phenomena), whereas because revealing forms are the opposite, they are coarse ones. Because it is contradictory for one set of four elements to have generated both a subtle (form of physical phenomenon) and a coarse one, (a nonrevealing form) arises from elements that are different from the ones that are the generating (cause) of a revealing form.   
(Tib.) gal te rnam par rig byed ma yin pa’i gzugs rdzas su yod la de yang ‘byung bzhi rgyur byas par ‘dod na/ de ci rnam par rig byed skyed byed kyi ‘byung ba kho na las skye’am/ ‘on te rig byed skyed byed las gzhan pa’i ‘byung ba las skye zhe na/ rig byed ma yin pa bstan med thogs med yin pas phra ba dang/ rig byed de las bzlog pas rags pa yin la/ ‘byung bzhi’i tshogs pa gcig gis ‘bras bu phra rags gnyis bskyed pa ‘gal bas rig byed skyed byed las gzhan pa’i ‘byung ba las skye’o//

Because of the earth element in the revealing form (the shape) of the body when implementing a method for causing a karmic action of the body to occur, the shape of the body when kneeling while taking on a pratimoksha vowed restraint, for example, is visible and impedes rain and wind. As a coarse form of physical phenomenon made of particles of the four great elements, neither rain nor wind can pass through the revealing form of the body kneeling while taking on a pratimoksha vow. The nonrevealing form of the vowed restraint, however, is invisible and, as a subtle form of physical phenomenon not made of particles, does not impede rain or wind.

The first moment of a nonrevealing form of the body arises simultaneously with a momentary revealing form of the body. The revealing form depends for its arising on the great elements of the ripened body, while, as we shall see in the following parts of this series, the nonrevealing form depends for its arising on the great elements of the revealing form with which it arises. 

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