"Eye" here is a wrong traditional English translation.vinasp wrote:What does "eye" mean here?
Pali term "cakkhu" here means "sight".
Recently published Margaret Cone's Pali-English dictionary gives in the "cakkhu" article following meanings:
cakkhu, 1. the eye; the organ of sight; the faculty of seeing, sight;...
Here the last meaning applies.
As for "cakkhu" (eye)", etc., Sue Hamilton discusses this issue at length in Identity and Experience: The Constitution of the Human Being According to Early Buddhism (pp. 7-35). She concludes that these six do not refer to the physical organs.
Wisdom-oriented suttas describe the investigation in terms of the elements (dhatu), sense spheres (ayatana), conditioned arising and aggregates (khandha):
Kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu tividhūpaparikkhī hoti? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhātuso upaparikkhati, āyatanaso upaparikkhati, paṭiccasamuppādaso upaparikkhati.
"And how does a monk have three modes of investigation? There is the case where a monk investigates in terms of properties, investigates in terms of sense spheres, investigates in terms of dependent co-arising.
(Sattathana sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; )
So the "cakkhu", etc., denote the sense spheres (ayatana), and not the physical organs.
Vibhanga explains these ayatanas in such a way:
Tattha katamaṃ cakkhāyatanaṃ? Yaṃ cakkhu catunnaṃ mahābhūtānaṃ upādāya pasādo attabhāvapariyāpanno anidassano sappaṭigho, yena cakkhunā anidassanena sappaṭighena rūpaṃ sanidassanaṃ sappaṭighaṃ passi vā passati vā passissati vā passe vā, cakkhumpetaṃ cakkhāyatanampetaṃ cakkhudhātupesā cakkhundriyampetaṃ lokopeso dvārāpesā samuddopeso paṇḍarampetaṃ khettampetaṃ vatthumpetaṃ nettampetaṃ nayanampetaṃ orimaṃ tīrampetaṃ suñño gāmopeso. Idaṃ vuccati “cakkhāyatanaṃ”.
The key word in the definition, "pasādo", is explained in the Margaret Cone's dictionary as:
Ghāna-pasāda, m., the tranquillity (resulting in sensitivity) of the sense-organ that is the nose; the receptive power of the sense-organ that is the nose; Spk II 131,11
Subject to arising and cessation. Sight, as one of six ayatanas, is subject to arising and ceasing, as described in Conditioned Arising.What does "impermanent" mean?