This evening I would like to reflect upon the subject felt by many people but not usually taken seriously i.e. Why We Need To Meditate
Last month in one of my meditation sessions at our Vihara during question-and-answer-time one lady told me that while meditating that evening she was thinking why on earth she was meditating there? what is the purpose of it? what good can it offer me? She was describing to me what was going on in her mind during meditation.
I believe she meant what she said. She was tempted to meditate without being convinced why she has to do so. She wasn't the only person not to understand. Her husband told me the same thing that evening. I am surprised to see both husband and wife together with their daughter feel the need for meditation but do not really have any idea what meditation would mean for them.
Actually, this is a common problem we often come across. I remember some years ago asking my mother to meditate. She did not want to say, "No" to me but far from being convinced by my suggestion, she actually found it unattractive. Later she spoke to my sister about it. She said, "My girl, your brother seems to see me as a short tempered woman; that is why he is asking me to meditate''
But now I am glad that after a few attempts she has come to enjoy it although she hasn't taken it up as a way of life as my father did. It is quite funny to think about it. Meditation was not attractive to her at all until my father died about twelve years ago.
Many have heard about meditation but are not sure what meditation would mean and how practical it could be. A few months ago while I was on a flight back to London a lady passenger who was on the same flight explained me how she meditates. She said she sat quietly, closed her eyes and tried to think of only good things in her life. And that is meditation.
So before I touch upon my chosen topic let me say a few words as to what meditation is.
Generally in Buddhism meditation means developing the ability of your mind Bhavana the original Pali word used for meditation in Buddhism, really means this. Another word for meditation in early Buddhist scripture is Jhana, Dyana in Sanskrit, Cha'n in Chinese and Zen in Japanese
The mind has an immense capacity to think, to learn and to know. Leave it undeveloped and it can also make you unhappy and your life a misery. That is the negative ability of the mind. We discover during the course of meditation progress that we really knew very little about ourselves especially when it comes to how our mind works. The mind is the most valuable asset we possess as human beings. Neglecting its welfare is to neglect all the potentials in our life.
There are many types of meditation in Buddhism itself. Each requires an instructor to practice. It is not recommended to try it on your own even with help of the best text.
As far as Buddhism is concerned meditation does not involve imagination or any kind of superstitious object. It is not based on superstitious belief. It focuses on the object easiest and best known to each and every one of us like focusing on breathing in and out.
This evening I shall confine myself to Vipassana (Insight Meditation). This type of meditation emphasizes solely on how our mind functions and seeks to develop its ability.
The ultimate aim of the practice is to understand life as it is using the developed mind to reflect.
Meditation has three steps; first we learn how our mind works, how different objects are trying to win the attention of the mind and dominate it. In this primary stage we discover that our mind has many objects like thinking, wandering, worry, fear, agitation, anxiety and aversion etc. The way they come to our mind is surprising. We do not mean to think but thoughts just come to our mind and waste our time, for instance, about something we have done today or what we will have to do tomorrow. We waste a lot of our mental energy by unintentionally getting lost in such thought. These negative thoughts are like pollution. A plant can not grow healthy under polluted environment. Mind cannot grow to its full capacity under these polluted thoughts.
To our surprise we discover how such thoughts are succeeding one another endlessly. Imagine if a negative fear happens to be present in our mind endlessly the whole set up of mind can be dominated by fear and as a consequence we can experience a pessimistic attitude and low self-esteem.
Having learned how our mind works we start to tackle the problem by stopping ourselves being led away by those involuntary thoughts. In this way we save our mental energy. How do we save our mental energy?
To give an example to something incomparable, mind is to me like a natural lake with pure water and aquatic creatures and lotus flowers in it, and with a green environment around it. People living nearby find the lake very much a part of their life as they depend on it in many ways. When we are purposelessly lost in thought, it is like water from the lake is leaking. When I say leaking it means the water is going out unnecessarily and obviously without your knowledge. While the water continues to leak this way, the lake is bound to go dry. Many aquatic creatures will suffer. Lotus flowers will suffer. The environment around the lake will suffer.
The problem with most of us is that when it comes to our mind we take everything too much for granted. We assume we know almost everything about our life. Like fish who take water for granted and never learn about it although water is very much part and parcel of their life. The reality comes only when something starts going seriously wrong.
Someone whose mental energy leaks and leaks away is seeing himself becoming weak in thinking, learning and understanding. Sometimes we complain, 'I can not catch what the lecturer said, my mind was not composed". That is leaking. Not only can it make you weak but it also can easily make frustrated. Mind is polluted with so many unwanted thoughts. This can affect those around you.
So in the first phase one makes an effort to learn how the mind works, how it can be polluted and after all, how it can be purified. One does not try to control it in this stage but rather try to follow it by watching its function closely so that one understands it adequately. He just tries to know the mind and its function as it is.
In the second stage one sees one's mind becomes contemplative. One is mostly aware that one's mind is functioning. The mind will not necessarily engage in unintended thoughts and waste time. We say in this stage mine becomes stronger since one is able to save his mental power. He focuses on increasing mental energy by trying to build-up a developed concentration.
As the last task one can now start to free the mind from any kind of disturbing thoughts that can pollute it. This is the stage where we can use our mind to its full capacity to get rid off all unwholesome thoughts that ever seek to pollute it. Peace in our mind will last undisturbed only when the mind can no longer be polluted.
We everydays interact with the world in six ways: through seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking. Actually, we live our life in these six worlds. I can not think of any other world other than these six. The first five are physical and the sixth is mental. Something that perceived in one of the first five could leave an impact on the sixth. If it continues to do so throughout our mind is bound to get polluted.
The aim of meditation is to learn about these worlds through our experience, to prevent any possible pollution coming through them, to prevent any mental energy leak through them, to increase mental energy through them and make the most use of them. First save it and increase its function positively. This is the very reason why we need to meditate. May you be happy!
QUESTION & ANSWER
Q: Why do you say our mind can be worn out? How?
A: If you reflect on yourself, you can see that sometime you do not intend to think, but thoughts just come and stay in your mind. They waste and waste your times — 30 minutes, one hour or more. At the end, you push a very deep breath out. You feel exhausted because your mental energy has been leaking. Leaking means something goes waste without your knowledge. In this way, if the kind of thought is serious like loss of property, life, divorce, fearful thought etc., one can be worn out very easily.
Q: Sir, can you explain about reflection, contemplation and concentration?
A: Reflection means you go through again something you already know. The word Re means to repeat again. Say, to reflect on the Buddha, I have to have known something about Him. The same is true in any issues. Contemplation, if used as technical term in Vipassana Meditation, means focusing the mind on more than one object. You start focusing on breathing or abdominal movement but when your mind goes out to classroom, you then focus on classroom. Classroom becomes another object. If pain comes up in your leg, you notice it. Pain is another object. In this way, you have more than one object to focus upon. It is called in Pali Sati (mindfulness). When you are able to keep your mind on one point (object) and you do so. This is concentration, which is in Pali Samadhi. The word 'Samadhi' has its synonym as one-pointedness (Ekaggata).
Q: Do you go back to the past to look at feelings such as fear and worry, etc.?
A: We do not go back We do not deliberately look for an object. We take any object that comes into our mind at that particular moment — maybe something we felt in the past or maybe an imagination about future. If you look for an object, you may end up creating the one you want. It then becomes artificial object. Vipassana is concerned only with an actual object that exists in reality in one of the six worlds — seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching and thinking . Object occurs at the present moment It is very much learning how to live at the present.
Q: When you walk on the street if your mind is analyzing a piece of philosophy, is it meditation?
A: Basically that kind of analysis is not Vipassana meditation. It is one of the functions of mind and should be mindfully watched. Analysis that comes when faculties are developed and balanced is, of course, closely associated with Vipassana.
Q: Venerable Sir, is there any possibility of full meditation life while working?
A: Yes, there is, if trained properly. It may take at least six to eight months. First you meditate for ten minutes and do it every other day. Do it regularly for a month. If you have never failed, you may increase the time with out increasing the date. Later you increase both the duration and the date. All these have to be done under a close guidance. It is normally expected that by the end of six or eight months you may come to have meditation included in your daily routine, and that will be one hour everyday.
If you do not build up systematically like this, it is difficult to adapt meditation as a way of life. You may meditate more than one hour when you are inclined to do so, and you do not when you do not feel like doing so. This shows that you have to develop determination and patience systematically.
Q: Are Arahat and Bodhisatta the same? Do they achieve the same?
A: They are not. An Arahat is an enlightened being who has liberated himself with the help of someone else. His meditation has reached final stage as far as arahathood is concerned. His mind is no longer pulluted nor can it be disturbed. He will not be reborn. He lives the last life.
A Bodhisatta is not yet enlightened. He still has some defilement though much less then an ordinary person. He is regarded for his compassion. I think that concerning compassion he may be even greater than some Arahats. Nevertheless, he still has many rebirths. He has the potential to get angry, be fearful, or do a mistake unlike Arahat who has eradicated all these. A Bodhisatta may be a married person but an Arahant cannot be. However, as a Bodhisatta his concern is down to earth
Q: Bhante, can you recommend about Samatha meditation?Would you say they, Samatha and Vipassana, can be practiced together?
A: There is hardly a clear-cut line between Samatha and Vipassana in practice, Of course, we can see the difference between them but that is more or less confined to academic explanation as far as Buddhism is concerned. There are many types of Samatha meditation, which seeks to develop concentration (Samadhi). In Burma many Vipassana meditation techniques employ at least one Samatha method to help build concentration. If any of the 40 types of Samatha meditation is used to develop Samadhi without directing toward understanding of the (meditation) object in terms of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and soullessness, it remains purely Samatha.
The advantage is that when concentration has been highly developed, one can easily investigate the nature of the (meditation) object and therefore understand its true nature — impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-soulness. Vipassana emphasizes in understanding the world (meditation object) in this way.
Other types of Samatha meditations like meditation on death, loving- kindness etc., are widely practiced along Vipassana. It helps develop and maintain each other.
Q: When you are criticized what you should do?
A: There are two steps to be taken. First, you should develop a realistic attitude towards criticism and your reaction to criticism.
Instead of viewing criticism as something terrible, you should look at it in a wider perspective that no one in the world is exempted from criticism — not even the Buddha and Jesus. It means criticism forms a part of human life — whether we like it or not. Therefore, you should see it as part of your life instead of trying deliberately to reject it. Then you should reflect upon your reaction — say, in a disappointed or angry manner. Before you are disappointed, you have already been suffered from (sometime unfair) criticism. If you become disappointed or angry, in addition to suffering from criticism, you suffer twice. Look at that in this way. On the other hand, try to see the danger of disappointment and angry. Physically and mentally, it harms you more than the other party. The Buddha said anger could never be justified due to this reason. Now you have had a realistic attitude towards criticism and your own reaction. But remember that you do not succeed at once in developing it. Nevertheless, you still have to go on trying if you love yourself.
Second step is to deal with criticism in meditative way. Say when you see somebody criticizing you; you should be mindful of the criticism being put forward. If your mind reacts, then notice that as well. This is how you should detect criticism and your reactions in a very early stage before it grows stronger. This can really help you.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TERM DUKKHA
To understand the concept of Dukkha is very important if you want to understand the central teachings of Buddhism. The word 'Dukkha' is not only keyword to Four Noble Truths (Cattari Ariyasaccani) where it appears again and again from start to finish but also to the other important teachings of the Buddha i.e. the Three Characteristic of the World (Ti-lakkana) which is Buddhist view of the world and the Philosophy of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) which is the Buddhist understanding of how things work and relate to one another for their very existence.
So not understanding Dukkha in its true sense means not understanding Buddhism itself Consequently, you may perhaps be cherishing a pessimistic attitude towards Buddhism and probably towards your own life. The Buddha said that until and unless we accept that there is Dukkha, there cannot be a spiritual practice.
Many translations of the word 'Dukkha' in English have now been around for almost a century and a half since Buddhism was introduced to Europe. Dukkha has been translated into English as suffering, illness and unsatisfactoriness. None of them retains the true meaning of Dukkha but the word Dukkha covers all these meanings and more.
Actually, Dukkha embraces the whole of existence, sentient or non-sentient, animate or inanimate, whether it is happiness, suffering, like, or dislike, a pleasant or unpleasant condition or a neutral one. It comes under Dukkha not necessarily because it is a kind of suffering as it is understood but simply because it is changing constantly all the time at any moment. All those things happy or unhappy, they come and go, begin and end. The whole process in this world just operates in this way. For this very reason, they are Dukkha.
The Buddha taught us in His First Sermon in a very simple way; whatever is impermanent or changing, all that is Dukkha (Yad aniccam tam dukkham). He observed the whole world and found nothing but a process of change. So changing means the world. The very characteristic of our existence that remains there all the time is but change. Maybe for better or for worse.
We fall ill and we suffer. That is suffering and that suffering is Dukkha. We are recovered. That is Dukkha as well because anything that changes is Dukkha. It comes and goes. We make a good fortune and that fortune is not everlasting but will one day go. Human beings are born and will definitely die. That is Dukkha.
We get into a bus and sometimes we have to sit next to some one who appears to us very unpleasant. That is Dukkha. You happen to work with some one you do not like, that is Dukkha. If you react to the situation. By thinking that today I am very unlucky, I meet such people, I am stupid to be here on this bus, I am sick of meeting such incompetent people, then you are creating Dukkha.
We meet someone somewhere in our life and at a certain point, we each have to go our own way. So we feel sad. That is Dukkha. You do not try to experience mindfully the meeting or the departing as it is but reacting. Again, you are creating Dukkha out of it.
We want a Mercedes Benz and we get it. We are happy but now people say Rolls Royce is better, more luxurious. People of high position tend to use it increasingly. Therefore, we want Rolls Royce now. We are no longer content with our Mercedes Benz. This is Dukkha. For some reason, we feel frustrated at work. This is Dukkha.
We want a word of thanks from someone, from our boss, from our neighbours but we got criticism instead. Therefore, this is Dukkha. To get it is all right. An appreciation is good. Nevertheless, if that makes us caught up in it, then we cling to it. We keep expecting to it more and more. This is Dukkha.
You want your child to behave in a certain way but it turns out just the opposite. So you feel disappointed, Disappointment is again Dukkha. They all bear the nature of arising and falling away. They come and go.
In this world, we feel anxious, despairing, frustrated, irritated, upset, disappointed, discomfort, anguish, painful and disgusted. Therefore, these are Dukkha in their nature, not because the Buddha said they are Dukkha.
Sometimes we make a success and feel very satisfied with our own performance. However, this satisfaction itself is again Dukkha, simply because it does not stay forever. In a higher stage of meditation practice (Jhana), you do not feel any mental annoyance at all. It is very calm and peaceful. It is called Sukha (Happiness). Again, this happiness is Dukkha, not because it causes unhappiness or suffering at that moment but because it does not stay forever. It changes. It starts and finishes. So it is Dukkha. You see Dukkha does not cover only the negative side of life also the positive one.
Actually Dukkha, I emphasize again, means 'The World'. I just cannot see anything, which is Not Dukkha. Alternatively, to put it in a very simple way, all we experience is Dukkha — whether it is through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or mind. To Buddhist analysis the world means only what we experience in our daily life through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. We experience the so-called world through these six sense doors. It is all Dukkha for its incapability of giving you a lasting sense of satisfactoriness, for being hardly able to withstand anything.
What to do then? Dukkha! Suffering! Oh no, I do not want that, nobody wants to hear it, it attracts no one to listen to it. We want to end Dukkha, which appears mostly in a painful manner in this world. Can we just ignore or run away to get rid off it? This will not work. The human habit is to ignore it because they do not want it. With the desire to end Dukkha, you may form a serious idea of getting away from it. The idea itself is all right. Nevertheless, once you are caught in that idea, then that clinging again becomes Dukkha. Without understanding, what we tend to do is to cling to that idea.
SO WHAT TO DO?
There are two things we can do; first is to recognize that there is Dukkha and then to try to understand the nature of Dukkha. It means to learn about it as it is, and try to experience it the way it is without reacting in a habitual way, without judging its value.
Sociologists like Stephen Moore and others say there are three preconditions of sociological Studies: Freedom of thought, accepting the crisis and a belief that thing can actually be done to remedy that crisis.
Freedom of thought today means you are free to express your thought and belief. Here I would add another aspect to it. I should say being free from any pre-conceived notion or thought formed of a person or anything is also freedom of thought. We can just say it is a kind of open-mind that is not influenced by our habitual way of reacting. This could form a good foundation for further understanding of Dukkha and for that reason also our life.
The Lord Buddha said there is Dukkha instead of saying I am suffering or you are suffering. Notice this. Dukkha is there, not personal, it is common to Asians and Europeans, to Burmese, Sri Lankan, British, American and others; Dukkha is experienced in the same way by a homeless person and by Queen Elizabeth. Being with someone you do not really like is felt in just the same way by anybody whether it is to Princess Diana or a poor woman. Separation is painfully experienced by anybody... be it the first lady of Peru or a wife of an Unknown Soldier. Death brings painful experience to any one related to it... whether it happens to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Mrs. Hema Premadasa, Mrs. Rabin or to the poorest of the poor. Mr. Onasis, the then richest man in the world found no relief over the death of his son. This kind of painful experience spares no one, rich or poor. You do not want to become old; neither do I. But this experience is just there as a fact.
The human experience is there. And Dukkha is there. It is the common bonds what we all share.
What we have to do in this stage is, may I repeat again, to recognize that there is Dukkha. Just as a sociologist accepts the existence of crisis in society. Dukkha is there but it needs recognition. It requires an acknowledgment.
Accept it. This is a starting point. From this, we can go on. The Lord Buddha spoke in a very clear and precise way. Dukkha must be understood, it must be penetrated (Parinnyeya).
To understand it we must first be aware of the facts on which our daily life is based. It is called mindfulness or Sati. With that mindfulness, your mind will become contemplative and receptive, and not impulsive nor rejective. Then investigate the real nature of that fact. This is called investigation of nature (Dhamma-vicaya). Both form factors of enlightenment (Bojjhanga). Doing this is just like what Sociologists say that we have to do research, carry on studies to bring a remedy to a crisis. The remedy in Buddhism is the Noble Eightfold Path. Each of us has to walk on the Path on our own to get to our destination. (The truth is understood individually)
I will now summarize the whole my talk from another aspect viewed by the Lord Buddha Himself. He said, "Look at the world as a pleasure, then as a danger and then there is liberation from that danger". With understanding of Dukkha, compassion starts growing in our heart. Suffering is the object of compassion. May you all be happy!!
As we all know the most emphasised factor in the teachings of the Buddha is Wisdom and the way to develop it, Wisdom is not only the most valuable ability of human being but also the most essential one.
The hindrance of Wisdom is Ignorance (Moha). Wisdom is forerunner of all wholesome acts while Ignorance is of the unwholesome ones. Wisdom sustains all the good qualities. But Ignorance undermines them. Wisdom cuts off the roots of suffering. Ignorance on the other hand increases and prolongs them.
Abhidhamma is but about the analysis and detailed investigation into physical and mental world with sole purpose of eradicating ignorance and at the same time establishing Wisdom. Here if we understand analysis as a method used in the Abhidhamma we should not forget that synthesis also forms part and parcel of the method. But since analysis is so pre-eminent in Abhidhamma, synthesis is hardly given attention.
The aim of Venerable Anuruddha, the author of the Abhidhammatthasangaha is to emphasise both. We see him summarising the synthesis method in the 8th chapter. When combined both methods convince us of the existence of Non-self (Anatta). Together they form a very firm foundation for meditative mind as well explained in the last chapter of the Abhidhammatthasangaha. In the canon synthesis is best explained in Patthana (The book of Conditionality) where all the realities (Dhamma) are reduced to a process of the conditioning (Paccaya) and the conditioned (Paccayuppanna).
According to the Mula Yamaka, the first chapter of the sixth book of the Theravada Abhidhamma, ignorance is not only unwholesome (Akusala) but also the root of it (Akusalamula).
It is so frequently repeated in the other parts of the Pali Canon that ignorance is the forerunner of all the evils in our life.*
All the unwholesome consciousness is analysed into 12 in number and as you know, in brief they are categorised into three types based on the root(s) that sends them into action, Mind becomes restless or doubtful entirely due to the might of ignorance (wrong knowing). We do not need to be premeditated to be restless or doubtful. As long as we have not removed it, ignorance can just possibly be around in our actions.
As mental formation, the presence of ignorance or wrong knowing is always accompanied by lack of concern for consequences (Ahirika), disregard for consequences (Anottappa) and lack of mindfulness (Uddhacca). These four factors are always present whether the action is prompted or not or whether sentimental or resentmental or the absent of both.
We would like to think it is only natural to see or even to believe that a bad result comes from bad causes. But to our surprise we see that a bad result some times is produced by wholesome causes as well. Let me draw one example from the Pannavara of the Patthana, the last book of the Abhidhamma Canonical text. It may be illustrated in this way.
One has observed the Eight Precepts for a day or so and started looking at those who do not do the same as morally inferior. Analysing according to Thought-Moments-Process (Vithi), that vanity may or may not be a direct result of the observing the Eight Precepts. But as a remote cause or to put it in technical term, as an Original-Decisive-Support (Pakatupanissaya) the precepts observing was the cause. Moha makes this opposite causal relation possible.
Returning to Thought-Moment-Process, if the observing precepts are perceived through one of the five senses doors, it can be direct cause to vanity. But the vanity is likely to be felt through mind-door process that follows one of the five-senses-door-thought process that takes place in a fairly strong manner.
Mind-door serves in the capacity of determination force in the five- senses-door. This kind of mind-door-thought-process is called 'Follow-up-mind- door-thought-process' (Tad-anuvattika manodvarika vithi), the other being pure-mind-door-thought-process (Suddha-manodvarika vithi).
In the five-senses-door-process the Abhidhamma scholars in Burma have tried to analyse the mind-door-process that happens in the post-five-senses door. In doing so, they say such follow-up-mind-door-processes can be examined in the following ways:
1. One of the five-senses-door-process takes place, In this process the Thought Process (Citta Vithi) may merely be aware of the relevant object. However, it does not recognise or comprehend it. (Note: the object is received at the present moment.)
2. Mind-door-thought-process follows after some Bhavangas filled the gap. These Cittas or Javanas perceive the same object but as the past one. In other words the relevant object we mentioned above becomes perceived through the mind and it was the object previously felt by one of the five- senses-door (Citta) through one of the five senses (Rupa). Here again the Javanas are just able to be aware of the object and not more than that, (Note: in mind-door-thought-process the object can be of past, present or future.)
3. Another mind-door-thought-process follows some Bhavangas. In this category the degree of comprehension is gaining a bit momentum as they have become aware of the object in terms of form, sound, (names, terminology, or words etc.), smell, taste, contact and thought depending on the nature of the object. This is where the whole object may likely be received. Say, the sound 'London when hearing 'Lon' there may have been the above successive different thought-moments. The same is true to the sound 'Don', But unless and until both 'Lon' and 'don' have been heard the collective object will not be perceived. (Here collective object (Samuhaggaha-vithi) means something that the word 'London' can convince when combined.)
4. Another mind-door-thought-process that comprehends the meaning takes place provided the object was the one that one used to perceive and comprehend before. If it happens to be a new object that one could not under stand, this category of thought-moment does not arise.
Coming back to the opposite causal relationship, one started developing vanity of his performance i.e. observing the Eight Precepts. That kind of Citta is rooted in both attachment (Lobha) and ignorance or wrong-knowing (Moha). Do not forget that Mana (conceit) is one of the mental formations and operates closely with Lobha in the absence of Ditthi (wrong view). This conceit manifests itself sometime along pleasant feeling, sometime neither-pleasant nor-unpleasant feeling. It can be activated either assisted or unassisted.
Let me just go a bit further regarding vanity or conceit. Any object near and dear to you can make you attach to it, provided you are not mindful of it. In this example, one begins developing a narcissistic notion (Asmi-mana) out of his own moral achievement i.e observing the precepts. Later at a certain point this particular object of narcissism could be abandoned and may possibly be replaced by the notion of Self (Atta or Sakkaya-ditthi).
This is according to Buddhist Psychology, how attachment (Lobha or Tanha ), conceit (Mana) and wrong view of self (Ditthi or Sakkaya-ditthi) are related to one another. This does happen under the influence of Moha. Causally they co-exist (Sahajata Paccayena Paccayo). Wrong-knowing (Moha) averts systematic attention (Yoniso Manasikara) from applying to the object.
One strongly falls in love with oneself. With different object keeps on appearing in one's life, just imagine how this kind of thought process could become increasingly powerful. Therefore, they reach the latent level (Anusaya). Here strong attachment (Kamaraga-nusaya / Bhavaraga-nusaya), conceit and wrong-knowing transform themselves as dormant tendencies which are ready to pop up at any time in our action, speech and thought.
It is because of this latent unskilful mental formation that good action done can have the possibility of producing bad consequences through remote causal relationship. This is the kind of relation that we referred to above technically as Decisive-Support-Condition (Pakatupanissaya).
If vanity is born at the time of taking Eight Precepts (or giving Dana), the relation is then taking place through Object-Condition (Arammana paccayo). In both cases — Decisive-Support-Condition and Object-Condition — the conditioning can be either conception (Pannyattiti) or material or mental phenomena but the conditioned can only be mental. In both cases, causal relationship between the opposite factors is equally possible.
Soon after His Enlightenment, the Buddha was reported to have uttered joyous words over His attainment. He identified the cause of repeated births as attachment. He confidently claimed that there would be no more sufferings that will be brought about by a new rebirth for He has put an end to attachment.
He recounted that He could not find the cause behind rebirths and there fore had to wander for many a time and suffer in the circle of birth. Wrong knowing or ignorance was just that prevented Him from finding out the attachment as the cause. So often, He described Himself as having broken and come out of the shell of ignorance (Andhatama).
So long, we are under the power of wrong-knowing, it is indeed hard to see the cause of suffering. It prevents us from recognising even suffering as a fact. Instead, it encourages us to ignore it or to take it otherwise. Wrong- knowing (Micchaditthi) produces wrong-view by which we take the essence- less as the essence and the essence the essenceless. The Dhammapada say, "Only in the absence of wrong-knowing we could see suffering as suffering and happiness as happiness"
Moha, as you know, accompanies these Cittas rooted in Dosa as well. Dosa is mostly translated by scholars as hatred, aversion or anger Nevertheless, fear, worry, disappointment and depression are also Dosa. Dosa originally means mental factor that is destructive. Hatred, aversion, anger, fear, worry, disappointment and depression are destructive in nature. Envy, jealousy and repentance are closely associated with these destructive mental states. It is repulsive and tends to react negatively.
Certain animals by nature are unable to see during daytime, while some others are blind in the night. A human being driven to great heights of one of the above destructive emotions is blind to anything in its true sense by day and night. At the moment of intense anger we become our worst enemy and start fighting with ourselves.
But as we all know these destructive emotions can be brought under control. There are some methods in doing so. If we use sociological method as used by the Buddha in explaining Four Noble Truths, we then have to recognise the problem first i.e. to recognise the presence of that particular destructive emotion within us at that moment. Then try to comprehend it. This is something that we have to do about the first Noble Truth. Then find out the cause of it. This is the second Noble Truth. After the cause is found, apply the Noble Way of Living (Noble Eightfold Path) for a cure.** To me this technique seems very intellectual.
Another method is to control destructive emotion by applying mindfulness. In this method, we try to be aware of the emotion itself, but not the object that causes the emotion. Otherwise one will be dragged on and overtaken by the object. This I would say, is Vipassana meditation technique (Insight meditation). The gradual steps are summarised again in the last chapter of the Abhidhammatthasangaha. In the course of practice, one begins to experience the real characteristics of the world after one has grasped the process of phenomena in terms of the conditioning and the conditioned. (Causality)
It is indeed extremely hard to be mindful all the time. Only the Arahats are supposed to be able to do that as they have totally eradicated ignorance, which is the father of restlessness.
In monastic judiciary procedure, there is a special law that declares and grants immunity to a particular accused who is believed to have attained the Arahatship. Just to be declared by the Judge that he (the accused) is all the time mindful, (Sativinayo) the allegation became invalid and the court procedure automatically ceased to proceed. Therefore, here what we learn is that the presence of mindfulness can prevent that destructive defilement from overcoming us.
I was surprised to read in the scriptures that even Venerable Ananda, the attendant of the Buddha, who was supposed to have attained the first stage of sainthood, reacting to the abuses he encountered together with the Buddha while going out for alms-round in the morning. The mob was abusing them of being lazy and outcaste because they depended on others for a living.
The Buddha was not moved by the abuses but Venerable Ananda was greatly annoyed that he requested the Buddha to move to another town for the alms-round. The Buddha then asked him as to what he would do if they faced another mob over there. Venerable Ananda immediately replied that they should then again move on to a new town. He was explained by the Buddha that such an abuse is just the nature of the world. Ignoring it and running away from it does not necessarily solve the problem. Instead, one should learn how to deal with it. So here we see Venerable Ananda was fighting with resistance coming from inside in the face of outside disturbances. The Buddha and Venerable Ananda responded to the same situation in entirely different ways, Perhaps with special reference to such kind of situation that we should understand a saying: the circumstance is important but the attitude to the circumstance is more important. Mindfulness gives us not only right attitude but also courage to face any situation. We can be threatened by fear and worry in the absence of Mindfulness.
The other methods of controlling emotion are briefed in the last chapter of the Abhidhammatthasangaha, which can also be found in any other parts of the canonical texts. The suitable form of meditation according to the inclination in one's Psycho-sphere is analysed and provided.
Breathing meditation is recommended to develop Wisdom. Development of Wisdom can also be equally aided by reflection on death, peaceful state of Nibbana and four elements etc. Kasinas if practised repeatedly help to expel wrong knowing as well. To put it in a simple way so that we can apply it in our daily life, try to understand whatever we do and why we are doing that at that particular moment.
In all methods, Mindfulness is essential throughout the way. Mindfulness as a part of concentration in Noble Eightfold Path, can bring the emotion under control even before wisdom is firmly established. That is why the Buddha declares this mindfulness-practice to be the only way to overcome grief, worry, disappointment, depression and suffering, and to purify oneself.
Here when we use the term 'Wisdom', I would like to stress that we do so in general. It includes different levels of right understanding and right view that comes as a result of it; the lowest level being the understanding of ethical value i.e. good and bad. All gradual knowledge we come across along meditation practice are but different steps of wisdom; during these, one encounters various experiences; the clarity is in a particular stage featured on the arising of phenomena and while in another on the falling away of it; one may see the process of phenomena in terms of danger or as disgusting. Mind will become more quiet and balanced in experiencing the same objects in the later part of the gradual knowledge. In any case, up to Gotrabhu-nana (the knowledge of the change-of-lineage) the understanding belongs to the ordinary people (Puthujjana) who are yet to be called saint.
In the levels of Ariya (Noble person) as you know the understanding or Wisdom is divided into three according to again their quality. The Wisdom in terms of faculty becomes varied in their degree. The path-stream-winner possesses a kind of knowledge that gives him or her more confidence and vision to overcome doubt on the three features of the existence. From a fruit- stream-winner onwards knowledge that convinces him or her of possessing understanding in its different final levels. In this final levels one may experience four different kinds of Wisdom that would be brought about by different degree of eradication of defilement (from Sotapatti-phala to Arahattha magga). In the last round the Arahat will possess the knowledge that he is liberated and be able to enjoy complete freedom of mind (Ceto Vimutti). He or she becomes totally sure that the job is done.
Wisdom, when mature, energises all our actions and our thinking. Trying to see it again from conditionality, it became a chief or dominant factor (Vimamsa-dhipati) and it serves as cause to the conditioned physical and mental phenomena.*** This is what we can call a wise life.
* Avijja Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya
** Right understanding (by keeping in mind the operation of Kamma and its consciousness), Right Thinking (by thinking, for instance, about good qualities of the hated one) or cultivation of Loving-kindness.
*** vimamsadhipati vimamsa-sampayuetakanam dhammanam tam sampayuttakananca dhammanam adhipati paccayena paccayo" (Paccayuddesa, Patthana Pali)
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