(By Chanmyay Sayadaw )

( A Dhamma Talk delivered by the Chanmyay Sayadaw, Ashin Janakabhovamsa, at a retreat in Sasana House near Sydney, Australia in March, 1998)

           On the previous two days we have been talking about the liberation of mind from defilements. The topic is why we should practise vipassana meditation, insight meditation. The so-called person or being is composed of both mentality and materiality, nama and rupa. Nama and rupa (mentality and materiality) are divided into five aggregates. The Buddha teaches these five aggregates. Nama (mentality) consists of the four aggregates:

  1. vedana kkhanda - aggregate of feeling
  2. sanna kkhanda - aggregate of perception
  3. sankhara kkhanda - aggregate of mental formation
  4. vinnana kkhanda - aggregate of consciousness

           These are the four aggregates which are mental phenomena, nama. The physical phenomena is only one aggregate, called rupa-kkhanda. In this way, there are five types of aggregates. One is physical phenomenon and the other four are mental phenomena.

           Sometimes the Omniscient Buddha gave a discourse summarising these five aggregates as two kinds, two processes - nama and rupa, mental and physical phenomena. Thus nama and rupa must be thoroughly realised by the meditator so that he can liberate his mind from all defilements.

           To realise nama is much more important than to realise physical phenomena (rupa) because it is nama (mental phenomena) that creates the world. Here the world means all living beings in the world. The Buddha said:

           There the Buddha said:

           The mind is the leader, the mind is the dominant one All things are made by the mind.

           If one should speak or act with a corrupted mind the dukkha caused by that follows him as the wheel of a cart does the ox's hoof.

           So when you do an unwholesome deed, the cause is unwholesome mentality, unwholesome mental states. Unwholesome mental states are called akusala in Pali. Wholesome mental states are called kusala. Wholesome mind brings about wholesome speech and deed.

           So the original cause of good deed and good speech is wholesome mind. The original cause of bad deed and bad speech is unwholesome mind. When the mind is unwholesome, deed and speech become unwholesome, then it produces suffering. When the mind is wholesome, then deed and speech is wholesome, then it produces happiness and peace.

           So the mind is the most important thing of all. The mind is much more important than the body. That is why the Buddha says vimutta-citto. He doesn't say vimutta kaya. Vimutta-citto means 'liberated mind'. If we say vimutta-kaya it means 'liberated body'. The Buddha never says vimutta-kaya, liberated body, he always says vimutta citta, liberated mind. Why? Because when mind is liberated from defilements and suffering,, the body also becomes liberated from suffering.

           As you know, the Venerable Moggalana had a liberated mind, completely liberated from all defilements through the final stage of enlightenment, arahantship. But when he was about to pass away, he was killed by some robbers, because of past kamma. I robbers thought that the Venerable one was dead but actually he was not yet dead as entered into phalasama patti, which protects his life against any killing. He was beaten by robbers to 'a sack of chaff' but he did not feel any mental suffering because his mind was liberated from defilements, he was not attached to his body. He sees unpleasant physical sensations as arising and passing away, just as a natural process feeling or sensation.

           Though his body was afflicted and injured by being beaten very badly, he didn't fee any painful sensation, he didn't feel any suffering because his mind was liberated from all defilements. He doesn't take his body to be himself, he sees it as ever-changing mental and physical phenomena. Then he was liberated fro physical suffering too. Unless his mind was liberated from defilements, he would have suffered a great deal. Now he doesn't take any mental and physical phenomena to be a person or a self, a being or a man. What he really sees is ever-changing mental and physical phenomena, so he is not attached to his body. Then he was liberated from physical suffering too.

           That is why the Buddha said the mind should be liberated from defilements. When the mind is liberated, you don't have either mental or physical suffering. That's why the Buddha teaches us to see things as they naturally are, by means of mindfulness meditation. That is why we have to practise mindfulness meditation so that we can liberate the mind from defilements.

           Then how can we liberate the mind from defilements and suffering? One day the Venerable Sariputta went to the Omniscient Buddha and asked Him a question. "Venerable Sir, 'a Great Man, a Great Man', thus people speak. How far is one a Great Man?" The Buddha said: 'With mind liberated is one a Great Man. With mind not liberated, one is not a Great Man'. A 'Great Man' is maha purisa in Pali. In Scripture, the word maha purisa refers to the Buddha. In some cases, the word refers to 'noble man'.

           Here the Buddha said, 'Sariputta, when a man's mind is liberated from defilements, he is a Great Man. When a man's mind is not liberated from defilements, he is not a great man.

           So here 'with the mind liberated' means vimutta-citto in Pali. Vimutta means liberated, citto means mind. Then the Buddha continued to explain how the mind can be liberated:

          Idha Sariputta bhikkhu kaye kayanupassi viharati

          atapi sampajano satima vineyya loke abhihjjha domanassam.

          Sariputta, a bhikkhu lives practising contemplation on the body as body, practising contemplation on feeling as feeling, practising contemplation on consciousness as consciousness (or mind as mind), practising contemplation on phenomena as phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful in this way having abandoned covertness and grief in the world.

           Because he practises contemplation of body, feeling, mind and phenomena, his mind becomes detached from everything, then it is liberated from all kinds of asava. Asava here refers to all kinds of mental defilements. In this way, his mind is liberated from asava and he is Great Man with liberated mind. If a man does not practise contemplation of body, feeling, mind and phenomena, he is not a Great Man because his mind is not liberated from defilements.

           Here the Buddha says 'to liberate one's mind, one should practise contemplation on the body as body, feeling as feeling, consciousness as consciousness and phenomena as phenomena'. Here the Buddha teaches the four foundations of mindfulness or the four types of mindfulness.

           The mindfulness of the body - kaya nupassana satipatthana

          The mindfulness of feeling or sensation - vedana nupassana satipatthana

          The mindfulness of mind or consciousness - cittana nupassana satipatthana

          The mindfulness of phenomena - dhamma nupassana satipatthana

           The Buddha said, if he practises this mindfulness, his mind will be detached from everything. Then it will be liberated from defilements? So the mindfulness meditation you are now practising is the way to be a Great Man with the mind liberated from defilements.

           Here a Great Man refers to an arahant. But here we must be careful that the Buddha didn't say vimutta kaya, liberated body, he said vimutta citto, liberated mind. So the most important thing is to be aware of any mental states that arises from moment to moment.

          In the discourse of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta the Buddha teaches us the mindfulness of consciousness in some detail:

           Saragam va cittam saragam cittamti pajati.

           Vitaragam va cittam vitaragam cittamti pajanati.

           This means, 'when the mind is with lust, you should observe it as with lust'. When it happens in your mind that lust arises, at that moment you should note 'lust, lust', 'greed, greed', 'desire, desire' and so on. Here the Buddha uses the word raga. The word raga covers all senses of lust, love, greed, desire, craving, attachment and grasping. So when there is desire in your mind you should observe it as 'desire, desire, desire'. When greed arises, you should observe it as 'greed, greed, greed'. When there is attachment, you should observe it as 'attachment, attachment, attachment' and so on.

           In Buddhist scripture, these mental states, sometimes, together with mind, are called citta. So mentality is the most important thing to be aware of, to be mindful of, in the world. Why? Because it is the mind that must be liberated from all kinds of defilements and suffering.

          Sadosam va cittam sadosam cittamti pajanati.

           When you have anger in your mind, you should observe it 'anger, anger, anger' as it is. Here also the word dosa covers all senses of anger, hatred, aversion, ill-will. All these are called dosa. So when you have anger in your mind, you should be mindful of it, noting 'anger, anger, anger'. When you have hatred, note 'hatred, hatred, hatred'. When you have aversion, you observe it 'aversion, aversion'. When you have ill-will, you observe it 'ill-will, ill-will, ill-will'.

           All these are mental states which are included in the word citta. So citta nupassana is the most important factor in the four types of mindfulness.

           But some meditators do not understand the importance of the consciousness or mind, so they do not try to watch when there is any mental state arising. If a meditator is able to be aware of, to be mindful of, any mental state arising at that moment, then he is sure to liberate his mind from defilements while he is observing that mental state. That mental state is free from kilesa, defilement.

           When he realises the arising and passing away of a mental state, suppose anger, then he doesn't take the anger to be himself, he doesn't identify anger with himself, with a person, a being, a self or soul. Because he realises anger is just a mental state he comes to realise the impersonal nature of the anger, he comes to realise no-self nature of the anger. Then he won't be attached to the anger or he won't be attached to his mind, because he sees it as impermanent or arising and passing away.

           The Buddha continued to teach us:

Samkkhittam va cittam samkkhittam cittamti pajanati.

           That is the chapter on cittan nupassana satipatthana. Samkkhittam cittam is sloth and torpor, and reluctance to practise meditation and laziness, if you have laziness in your mind, you observe it 'lazy, lazy'. If your mind is depressed, note 'depression, depression'. and if your mind is reluctant, note 'reluctant, reluctant'.

           Whatever mental states arise must be observed as they are. This is citta nupassana to liberate the mind from defilements and suffering.

           Then again the Buddha said:

          Vikkhittam va cittam vikkhittam cittam pajanati.

           Here vikkhitta citta means dissipating thought. It covers all the senses of thinking, wandering, planning, seeing mental pictures and so on. So when the mind is wandering, you observe it, 'wandering, wandering'. When your mind is thinking, you note, 'thinking, thinking'. When your mind is planning, you note, 'planning, planning' and so on.

           To observe be mindful of wandering thoughts, thinking mind or imagination is the most important factor to make progress in Vipassana meditation. So when you have these thoughts you should not fail to note them.

           When thoughts are noted, thoughts are observed, they become less and less. When thoughts become less and less, concentration becomes better and better. When thoughts are not noted, concentration is not good, it becomes weak. Sometimes you are not aware of thoughts though they are going, wandering, thinking. You think you are observing rising-falling or an object of mentality or physicality, but actually your mind is wandering stealthily, planning something, expecting something in the future, recollecting something in the past and so on, but you are not aware of it because you think the mind is with an object such as rising-falling, or lifting-dropping.

           Why? Because you do not observe them when thought arises.

           When you observe any thought that arises in the sitting as well as the walking, you come to realise the true nature of thought your concentration is good enough. The thought is a mental state which is impermanent, it arises and then passes away. But sometimes you think that thought keeps on going a very long time. Actually, it is not only one thought. A series of thought processes arises one after another. This is a thought process, not only one thought moment. The thought doesn't even last a millionth of a second, it arises and instantly passes away. After a previous thought has disappeared, another thought arises and passes away.

           But we are not able to discern the thought process. We think this is the only thought that is everlasting and keeps going on. Thus we identify that thought with me or mine, a person or being. It is 'I' who thinks, 'I am thinking about something'. Thus the wrong view of a person or self arises.

           In this way, thought is taken to be a person a being or self. Then the wrong idea of that person or being gives rise to many different defilements such as greed, desire, hatred and so on. In this way, your thought or mind is not liberated from defilements because you do not observe it. When you observe it, you come to realise thought as a natural process arising and passing away one after another, and then you won't identify this process with yourself, with me or mine, a person or being, because you rightly understand this as a process of mentality which are arising and passing away one after another. Then you don't have any defilements in your mind because you are realising or rightly understanding the thought as it really is.

           It is very interesting to watch thought process when it arises. When our concentration is deep enough we see thought process as one thought after another, appearance and disappearance. We see the impermanence of the thought, the suffering of being oppressed by arising and passing away. Then we don't have any mental defilement in our mind. In this way the mind is liberated from defilement.

           When our insight into the impersonal nature of the thought becomes mature, then we realise or experience one insight knowledge after another until we have attained the final stage of insight knowledge. After that the mind changes into Enlightenment - magga nana - path knowledge. That enlightenment eliminates some aspects of defilement. Then the mind is liberated from some of its defilements. In this way, one stage of Enlightenment after another uproots the defilements. Eventually, the final stage of Enlightenment (arahatta magga) uproots all mental defilements completely. Then the mind is completely liberated.

           That's why the Buddha says that when a man practises mindfulness meditation, contemplation on body as body, contemplation on feeling as feeling, contemplation on mind as mind and contemplation on phenomena as phenomena, his mind becomes detached from everything and liberated from all mental defilements, then he is a Great Man with a liberated mind.

           So I would like you not to fail to observe or watch thoughts, good or bad, small or big, that arise in the sitting or the walking, observing them energetically, attentively and precisely. Then you are able to liberate your mind from defilements and be a Great Man with a liberated mind.

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