Characteristics of material phenomena

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Characteristics of material phenomena (Pali: lakkhaṇarūpa) is a list of four characteristics of phenomena identified in the Pali tradition.

These are:

  • production of matter (upacaya)
  • continuity (santati)
  • decay (jaratā)
  • impermanence (aniccatā)

A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma states:

Of these, production (upacaya) and continuity (santati) are both terms for the genesis, arising, or birth (jāti) of matter. They differ in that production is the first arising of a material process, the initial launching or setting up of the process, while continuity is the repeated genesis of material phenomena in the same material process. For example, the arising of the body, sex and heart groups at conception is production, while the subsequent arising of those same material groups throughout life is continuity.
Production of matter has the characteristic of setting up. Its function is to make material instances emerge for the first time. It is manifested as launching or as the completed state. Its proximate cause is the matter produced.
Continuity of matter has the characteristic of occurrence. Its function is to anchor. It is manifested as non-interruption. Its proximate cause is matter to be anchored.
Decay (jaratā) has the characteristic of the maturing or aging of material phenomena. Its function is to lead them on towards their termination. It is manifested as loss of newness without loss of being. Its proximate cause is matter that is decaying.
Impermanence (aniccatā) has the characteristic of the complete breaking up of material phenomena. Its function is to make them subside. It is manifested as destruction and falling away. Its proximate cause is matter that is completely breaking up.[1]

Sanskrit tradition

The Sanskrit tradition has a similar list, called:

References

  1. Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000, s.v. "Characteristics of material phenomena".


Sources