This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Preface The quiet surroundings for our Dhamma discussions could not have been better: the Kraeng Kacang Country Club and Khun Duangduenís house further up in the hills. Everything had been beautifully arranged and organized by Mom Betty Bongkojpriya Yugala. We enjoyed the warm hospitality of Acharn Sujin, her sister Khun Jid and Khun Duangduen. They treated us on one delicious meal after another, also high up at the lake. At sunset we walked down the lane, looking at the stars and listening to the voices of the forest, just relaxing or again discussing points of the Dhamma. It was all very peaceful and inspiring. We are most grateful for all the hospitality. Later on I attended Dhamma discussions in Thai at the Foundation, the building of the ìDhamma Study and Support Foundationî. There were discussions on the Satipaììhåna Sutta, for two hours and after that, I attended the meeting of the Board of the Foundation. Here was discussed whether only the first hour of the discussions on the Satipaììhåna Sutta should be spent with questions and after that the second hour with the text. It was feared that the time spent on the discussions could become longer so that there would be less time for the text itself. Acharn Sujin said: the questions are most important, because if people do not understand satipaììhåna pertaining to this moment, they cannot understand the text. It does not matter whether the second part of the time dedicated to the text becomes shorter and it would take even a year to deal with only a few parts of the texts. This was a long discussion but it brought home to me the importance of the principles that were discussed. We should not understand just the names of realities, but the characteristics which appear now. Without right understanding of satipaììhåna, we cannot grasp the meaning of the texts of the Tipiìaka. Many of my Thai friends have become very skilled at Pali (the Pali lesson starts at eight on Sunday morning at the Foundation) but they also realize that it is the understanding of the reality now that matters, not theoretical understanding. I was greatly impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the teachers who assisted Acharn Sujin in the explanation of the Dhamma. I really had píti (rapture) and paamojja.m (delight) being with them, it bolstered my confidence in the teachings. ********
Theory and Practice In Kraeng Kacang we were reminded time and again that we cannot understand the Tipiìaka without developing awareness and understanding of this very moment. We have heard many times that there are three levels of understanding: understanding stemming from listening and reading, pariyatti; understanding that is developed through awareness of nåma and rúpa, paìipatti or practice; understanding that is the direct realization of the truth, paìivedha. While we are reading texts we may become absorbed in them without any awareness of nåma and rúpa. Realities, nåma and rúpa, appear all the time, but mostly we are only thinking about them. We were reminded by Acharn Sujin that we should know that there is dhamma at this moment, a reality with its own characteristic. If we have merely theoretical knowledge, we know only the names of realities. When sati-sampajañña arises realities can be studied with direct awareness of them. Sampajañña, another term for paññå (understanding) is often translated as clear comprehension. We should remember that this is not theoretical understanding. The term sati-sampajañña (mindfulness and understanding), is also used in samatha (tranquil meditation), and there it denotes sati and pañña of the degree of discerning between akusala citta and kusala citta right at the present moment; sati-sampajañña knows whether there is attachment to calm, and it knows how to subdue defilements by means of a meditation subject. In the development of insight, sati-sampajañña is awareness and direct understanding of the characteristic of nåma or rúpa appearing at the present moment. The conditions for sati-sampajañña are the study of realities as taught in the Tipiìaka and careful consideration of what one has learnt. Acharn Sujin said that without the understanding of the Abhidhamma satipaììhåna cannot be developed. By Abhidhamma she did not mean theoretical knowledge of all the details of the Abhidhamma, but a basic understanding of nåma, mental phenomena, and rúpa, physical phenomena. We should know that nåma is the reality that experiences an object and rúpa is the reality that does not experience anything. People may doubt whether rúpa is real, they believe that only nåma is real. If we have doubt about the existence of rúpa, a reality that does not know anything, how can we develop right understanding of the difference between nåma and rúpa? Insight is developed in different stages and the first stage is knowing the difference between the characteristic of nåma and of rúpa. If one has not reached this stage, the impermanence of nåma and rúpa can never be realized. The three levels of understanding, pariyatti, paìipatti and paìivedha follow one upon the other and they must be in conformity with each other. Study, practice and realization of the truth must refer to the same basic realities. At this moment a dhamma appears and it has a characteristic that can be known in accordance with what we learnt through the theoretical knowledge of realities. Citta, consciousness, is nåma and it is accompanied by several mental factors, cetasikas which are also nåma. Cetasikas experience the same object as the citta they accompany, but they perform each their own function. We were reminded time and again: ìPeople study citta, but they do not know the citta that is appearing now.î Seeing is a citta, it is nåma that experiences visible object. Visible object is rúpa that appears through the eyes. Hearing is another citta, different from seeing. I said to Acharn Sujin that I am forgetful of seeing that appears now, and hearing that appears now. She answered that I should listen again to the Dhamma, that I should listen and consider realities very often. Paññå does not know something other than what
naturally appears at this moment. When a reality appears one at a time, nothing else can appear at that moment. It is true that only one dhamma appears at a time, and that the next moment another dhamma appears. We can verify that when seeing arises, there cannot be hearing at the same time. These two types of cittas arise because of different conditions: they experience a different object and they are dependent on a different base. We think about the dhamma that appears and we cling to it. However, this prevents us from being aware of other dhammas that appear afterwards. Acharn Sujin said to me: îNever forget that at this moment a reality is appearing, and that one characteristic appears at a time.î Realities are appearing all the time, but they are not objects of sati, because we are forgetful. I was reminded that we only think of the story, the subject matter of nåma and rúpa. We have to be very sincere as to our own understanding. We may read a great deal about nåma and rúpa, but this is only theoretical understanding, different from satisampajañña arising at the present moment. Understanding of the difference between thinking of realities and direct understanding of them is essential. I find that this was the most important lesson I learnt when I was in Thailand this time. I remarked that each time I come to Thailand, I realize more how little I know. Jonothan answered: ìWhen you realize this, does that not mean that there is more understanding? That is encouraging.î It is true: when we realize our deeply engrained ignorance and wrong view, it helps us not to have vain expectations about the growth of paññå. The Buddha taught people to develop right understanding of what appears at the present moment, and this is satipaììhåna. The Abhidhamma explains in detail all realities of our daily life, and therefore it is very meaningful that he taught in the Heaven of the Thirtythree Abhidhamma in alternation with satipaììhåna. We read in the Commentary to the ìMiddle Length Sayingsî (III, 134, Baddhekaratta Sutta, Discourse on ìA Single Excellent Nightî), that the Buddha, in the Heaven of Thirtythree, taught the Abhidhamma in alternation with the Baddhekaratta Sutta to the devas who could not penetrate the profound and detailed teaching of the Abhidhamma on rúpa and arúpa (nåma) that have the three characteristics (of dukkha, impermanence and non-self). We read in the ìBhaddekaratta Sutta of Lomasakaògiyaî that the deva Candana approached the venerable Lomasakaògiya and asked him whether he remembered the exposition and analysis of the Baddhekaratta Sutta. It appeared that both of them could not remember this, but Candana remembered the verse. He related that the Buddha had taught these when he dwellt in the Heaven of the Thirtythree. We read in the ìBhaddekaratta Suttaî, ìA Single Excellent Nightî(Middle Length Sayings,131, translated by the Ven. Bhikkhus Nyanamoli and Bodhi): "Let not a person revive the past Or on the future build his hopes; For the past has been left behind And the future has not been reached. Instead with insight let him see Each presently arisen state; Let him know that and be sure of it, Invincibly, unshakeably. Today the effort must be made; Tomorrow Death may come, who knows? No bargain with Mortality
Can keep him and his hordes away, But one who dwells thus ardently, Relentlessly, by day, by night It is he, the Peaceful Sage has said, Who has had a single excellent night." When sati-sampajañña arises and it can directly understand seeing, feeling or clinging that appears now, we can understand the phrases: ìFor the past has been left behind And the future has not been reached. Instead with insight let him see Each presently arisen state.î The three parts of the Tipiìaka, the Vinaya, the Suttanta and the Abhidhamma are in conformity with each other. All three parts of the Tipiìaka contain the Buddhaís fundamental teaching of impermanence, dukkha and non-self, and they point the way to the elimination of defilements. In order to understand these teachings it is essential to know and be aware of the realities as they appear through the six doors. The Vinaya contains very refined rules for the monks, because the Buddha knew so well the subtlety and the intricacy of cittas. If someone believes that the rules concerning very small matters are not important, it should be recognized that there should be awareness of realities appearing through the six doors also when it concerns small matters, and that not observing these rules may be a condition for more akusala later on. We can discover that there is a great deal of Vinaya in the Suttanta, and we should remember that the aim of both the Vinaya and the Suttanta is the eradication of defilements. The Abhidhamma teaches all realities in detail as well as the conditions for the nåma and rúpa which arise and fall away, which are impermanent. The Abhidhamma helps people to see dhamma as just dhamma, non-self, so that enlightenment can be attained and defilements eradicated. The truth the Buddha taught in the Abhidhamma is not different from what he taught in the Suttanta. Also in the Suttanta the Buddha taught paramattha dhammas, ultimate realities. However, here he also used conventional language to explain ultimate truth, according to what was appropriate for the listeners. Thus, we shall see that the three parts of the Tipiìaka are in full conformity with each other, in the sense that all three parts comprise the fundamentals of the Abhidhamma. We take all realities for self, we believe that it is ìmeî who is walking, sitting or talking. When visible object appears we can learn that it is only a dhamma appearing through the eyes. We are inclined to think for a long time on account of visible object and we conceive it as this or that person. When sati-sampajañña arises, there is no thinking about visible object at the same time; there will be less clinging to the image we conceive or to details. Paññå can understand instantly that it is only a dhamma. By understanding conditioned realities the idea of self can be eliminated. Satipaììhåna should be developed naturally. We should not try to ignore concepts, we notice the table, trees and people and we think about them. Also the Buddha noticed people and thought about them, but he had no wrong view. When we notice people and then close our eyes, we still remember an image we have of people. However, no colour appears at that moment, thus, we can understand the difference between the thinking and the seeing of colour or visible object. When we know that people are present, it is thinking. Thinking itself is real, there could not be thinking if there were no citta which
thinks. I was reminded that we can begin to consider this now, at the present moment. Only if we consider this time and again, we shall know the difference between realities and concepts. I learnt in Thailand that it is very useful to consider and try to understand the meaning of thinking and of concepts coming up in our life. We learn through the Abhidhamma that one citta arises at a time and that it experiences only one object at a time. We can verify this ourselves. What appears is only a reality, a dhamma. We can ask ourselves at the moment of seeing whether we have any idea that there are people around us. When we see or hear, we do not think of people, because at the moment of seeing, only visible object is experienced, there is only the world of visible object. At the moment of hearing there is only the world of sound. We can come to understand that what appears is an element, that it is not a person and that it does not belong to anyone. Time and again objects impinge on the senses and on account of them we think of people and the things around us, of the world. However, when we are fast asleep, there are no cittas arising in processes that experience objects through one of the six doors. However, there has to be citta, otherwise we would not be alive. At such moments there are cittas called life-continuum, bhavanga-cittas; they have as function to maintain the continuity in the life of a particular person. At such moments the world does not appear, we are not thinking of people, we even do not know who we are and where we are. Only when cittas arise in different processes, there is again seeing and thinking of what we see: the world appears 1. If there were no citta which thinks, there would not be any concepts, no world. We experience pleasant objects and unpleasant objects and we are inclined to think about them for a long time with akusala citta. We think of people and we worry about them. When we were walking with Acharn Sujin in the garden and we were looking at the young Mango trees, Lodewijk and I spoke to her about the problems we have with my father. Acharn Sujin gave us valuable advice about the way to cope with our problems in daily life. She said: ìWhatever appears now, one should remember that it is because of conditions. Nobody can do anything, you cannot change a particular thought to another one. You cannot change seeing right now to the experience of another object. When you understand this, you do not go away from the present object. When you understand that it is conditioned in this way you do not think, why does this unpleasant event happen to me. It is useless to cry over it or think more about it.î When I told her that I was worrying about someone else, she said: ìIf you worry about him, there is him in the thinking, and it is very difficult to get rid of the idea of belonging. Everything belongs to us: seeing, thinking, the story we think of. When you see him, what can you do for him? After that, forget everything. There is no connection with the story of yesterday, last year, two years ago. Clinging to self is a danger, it brings ever more akusala.î I was reminded that no words are needed when sati-sampajañña arises, it is not thinking, defining or speculation. Sati does not choose, it is naturally aware of whatever dhamma appears, also of akusala. If there is no awareness of akusala we keep on taking akusala for self. We are used to thinking about realities, defining them. Direct understanding is different, but it is in conformity with what we learnt from the texts. Hardness is experienced through the bodysense and usually there is no awareness of it. Most of the time we touch a spoon, a fork or a table without sati. Hardness is experienced by the citta that is body-consciousness and it may be followed by attachment, lobha. But when satisampajañña arises, hardness still appears but there is awareness and understanding of its
characteristic as only a reality, a rúpa. A moment of awareness is very short, but it can lead to more understanding of the characteristics of realities. Acharn Sujin said that it is so useful to study the Dhamma, because we can learn to develop our own understanding. Then we can fully appreciate the Abhidhamma: its purpose is not knowledge of terms and classifications, but direct understanding of what appears now. The Abhidhamma supports the development of satipaììhåna. We should remember that the Buddha taught Abhidhamma together with satipaììhåna. Three months before his parinibbåna, the Buddha continued to teach satipaììhåna. We read in the ìMahå Parinibbåna Suttaî(ìDialogues of the Buddha, 95) :
Then the Bhagavå addressed the Bhikkhus, saying: ìMindful should you dwell, Bhikkhus, clearly comprehending; thus I exhort you. And how, Bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu mindful? When he dwells contemplating body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; and when he dwells contemplating feeling in the feeling, mind in the mind, and mental objects in the mental objects...î We read further on that the Buddha said to Ånanda: ìNow I am frail, Ånanda, old, aged, far gone in years. This is my eightieth year, and my life is spent. Even as an old cart, Ånanda, is held together with much difficulty, so the body of the Tathågatha is kept going only with supports. It is only, Ånanda, when the Tathågata, disregarding external objects, with the cessation of certain feelings, attains to and abides in the Signless Concentration of Mind 3, that his body is more comfortable. Therefore, Ånanda, be ye an island unto yourselves, a refuge unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Teachings as your island, the Teachings as your refuge, seeking no other refuge...î We then read that by the development of the four Applications of Mindfulness one is an island and refuge to oneself.
Footnotes 1. Seeing arises in a series or process of cittas, the eye-door process. Seeing only sees, but the other cittas in that process which perform each their own function also experience visible object. There are sense-door processes of cittas and mind-door processes of cittas. Bhavangacittas do not arise in a process of cittas that experience an object through one of the six doorways. They arise when we are fast asleep and not dreaming, and also in between the different processes of cittas. 2. I am using the translation of the Wheel Publications 67-69, B.P.S. Sri Lanka. 3. The Commentary, the Sumaògala Vilåsiní, explains: phala samåpatti: fruition attainment. This has nibbåna as object. ******
Chapter 2 The Conditions for Direct Understanding We read in the ìKindred Sayingsî (Khandha vagga, Middle Fifty, Ch 5, § 101, Adzehandle) that the Buddha used similes in order to explain that freedom from defilements cannot be attained by mere wishing, but only by cultivating the right cause. We read: Just as if, brethren, some eight or ten or dozen henís eggs are not fully sat upon, not fully warmed, not fully brooded over by the hen. Then suppose that in that hen there arise such a wish as this: îO that my chicks with foot and claw or mouth and beak might break through the eggshells and so be safely hatched.î Yet for all that those chicks are not made fit to break up the eggshells with foot and claw or mouth and beak, and so be safely hatched. What is the cause of that? It is because those eight or ten or dozen henís eggs, brethren, have not been fully sat upon, fully warmed, fully brooded over by the hen. Even so, brethren, if in a brother who lives neglectful of self-training there should arise this wish: ìO that my heart were freed from the Åsavas without graspingî, yet is his heart not freed thereby from them. What is the cause of that? It must be said: ìIt is his lack of self-training.î Training in what? In the four Earnest Contemplations...in the Ariyan Eightfold Path...î We then read that just as when the eggs are fully brooded and the chicks are safely hatched, the monk who is not neglectful in self-training reaches arahatship. The Commentary to this Sutta, the ìSåratthappakåsiníî elaborates on this simile: Just as the eggs do not rot, so does the bhikkhuís insight not decrease, because he has undertaken the threefold contemplation (of the three characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anattå). Just as the moisture within the eggshell dries up, so the bhikkhuís attachment to the threefold existence (in the sensuous planes, fine material planes and immaterial planes) is abandoned. Just as the eggshells become thinner, so the shell of ignorance becomes thinner. Just as the chickís feet, nails and beak have become hard and sharp, so has the bhikkhuís insight become keen and pure, it is developed with courage. Just as for the chicks the moment of hatching comes, so for the bhikkhu when insight has been developed, the time of its maturity arrives. Just as the chicks, after they have split the eggshell with nails, beak and feet, merge safely, so for the bhikkhu insight knowledge matures, when he has acquired the right conditions of climate, food, people (he associates
with), and listening to the Dhamma. By the gradual attainment of insight that is developed he penetrates the shell of ignorance and reaches safety by arahatship.... This reminds us of the right conditions for the development of insight. Association with the right friend in Dhamma and listening are essential conditions for the development of right understanding that will lead to enlightenment. Acharn Sujin frequently reminded us of this sutta: ìDoes one know that one is in the shell of ignorance and clinging? Clinging is very strong.î Just as the chicks needed energy and courage to split the eggshell, we need energy and courage for awareness of the reality that appears now. In this way, keen understanding can be developed so that the shell of ignorance can be penetrated. If we remember this we shall not be neglectful of the development of understanding. We have heard the word vipassanå, insight, many times, but we should know what it is and how it is developed. Vipassanå is paññå that clearly knows the characteristics of the realities that appear through the six doorways. It is gradually developed, stage by stage, so that enlightenment can be attained. We should remember that there is dhamma, reality, at this very moment. If understanding of the dhamma of this moment is not developed we shall continue to merely think about the texts of the Tipiìaka we read and studied instead of realizing the characteristics of the dhammas that are appearing. The Buddha spoke time and again about the objects experienced through the senses and through the mind-door. He spoke about seeing, visible object, hearing, sound and other realities. These are conditioned dhammas appearing now, one at a time. We read in the ìKindred Sayingsî (IV, Second Fifty, Ch 2, § 64, Migajåla) that the Buddha, while he was staying at Såvatthí, said to Migajåla: There are objects, Migajåla, cognizable by the eye, desirable, pleasant, delightful and dear, passion-fraught, inciting to lust. If a brother be enamoured of them, welcome them, persist in clinging to them, so enamoured, so welcoming, so persisting in clinging, there comes a lure upon him. The arising of the lure, Migajåla, is the arising of Ill (dukkha), so I declare... We read that the Buddha said the same about the other objects experienced through the appropriate doorways. The Buddha then said: There are objects, Migajåla, cognizable by the eye... savours cognizable by the tongue... Mindstates cognisable by the mind... inciting to lust. If a brother be not enamoured of them... the lure fades away. The fading away of the lure, Migajåla, is the fading away of Ill, so I declare. We then read that Migajåla, dwelling solitary, secluded, zealous, ardent and aspiring, attained arahatship. This sutta demonstrates the danger of forgetfulness of realities and the benefit of right understanding. We are reminded that right understanding of nåma and rúpa should be developed with zeal and ardour, that is, with courage and energy. We should not think of a self who is zealous or who makes an effort, zeal and effort are cetasikas accompanying the citta. When sati-sampajañña arises, there is already energy, viriya cetasika. When right understanding of nåma and rúpa is being developed we may cling to having more moments of awareness, but that is not the right way of development. Acharn Sujin
asked us: îWould you like to have more awareness?î If that is the case, there is clinging. We should know whether we wish to develop right understanding in order to gain something for ourselves. Do we develop it for our own sake? Acharn Sujin stressed that right understanding is to be developed with detachment and that it leads to more detachment. In our life there are moments of forgetfulness and sometimes moments of sati. We should learn the difference between such moments, so that we come to know the characteristic of sati. The Buddha taught to Migajåla that the fading away of the lure is the fading away of dukkha. All realities that arise because of their appropriate conditions have to fall away, they do not last. Seeing arises and falls away, it is impermanent. Whatever is impermanent is dukkha, it is no refuge, unsatisfactory, not worth clinging to. The impermanence of nåma and rúpa can be realized only through the development of the stages of insight knowledge. When paññå has directly understood the impermanence of the dhamma appearing through one of the six doorways, the truth of dukkha can be seen more clearly. Craving is the second noble Truth, the cause of dukkha. The Buddha taught Migajåla the way leading to the cessation of dukkha. Thus, in this Sutta the four noble Truths are taught: the Truth of dukkha, of the cause of dukkha which is craving, of the end of dukkha which is nibbåna, and of the way leading to the end of dukkha, the eightfold Path. When craving, the cause of dukkha, is eradicated there is the cessation of dukkha. Hardness appears all the time in daily life, but we are still ignorant of it. Paññå has not been developed to the degree that its true nature can be known. When hardness appears there is also the experience of hardness, the citta which experiences hardness. At that moment seeing or hearing do not occur, there is nothing else but the experience of hardness. There are many kinds of rúpa and each kind can appear through the appropriate doorway. The rúpas of the body have the characteristics of cold, heat, softness, hardness, motion or pressure. If one clings to a concept of a whole, such as the whole body, the idea of self cannot be abandoned. In the ìMigajåla suttaî, and in many suttas, the Buddha spoke about the realities appearing through the six doors. What we take for the whole world consists actually of six separate worlds, experienced through the six doors. The idea of a person is the result of thinking of different sense objects as they appear separately through the different doorways. In the ultimate sense a person does not exist. We think of concepts instead of being aware of realities. A moment of awareness is so short, and then we may think of realities with doubt. I asked Acharn Sujin how we can study thinking when awareness is so short. Thinking of concepts is so prominent all the time. She answered: ìNot at once, you have to learn. As a child, you had to learn reading and in the beginning you could not recognize all the different letters.î She explained that it takes time to know the difference between the moments with awareness and those without awareness. When thinking arises it can remind us that there is no awareness. However, the characteristic of thinking is real and it can also be an object of insight. A friend who is one of the teachers at the Foundation, Khun Anop, said to me: îThere is an idea of ëI thinkí, but in reality it is citta that thinks: íIt is me who is thinkingí.î If there were no citta we would not have any idea of ìI am thinkingî. We take thinking for self, but when we consider the reality of thinking when it appears, we shall come to know it as a conditioned nåma which does not last. We need to have a firm foundation knowledge of citta: the reality that experiences an object. When the characteristic of aversion appears, we are inclined to think, this is aversion, instead of being aware of its characteristic without thinking about it or naming it.
It passes away so quickly. Even a slight yearning for more understanding hinders its development. Khun Anop also said, ìSatipaììhåna is developed so that we can know what naturally appears at this moment, through one of the six doors. If we do not understand what naturally appears, we behave in an unnatural way.î Acharn Sujin, Acharn Supee, Khun Anop and others spoke for two hours in the Parliament building about the difference between sense-cognitions such as seeing or hearing, and all the other cittas which are not sense-cognitions. Cittas are accompanied by cetasikas, mental factors, which each perform their own function when they assist the citta in cognizing an object. Each citta is accompanied by at least seven cetasikas. The sense-cognitions are accompanied by seven cetasikas, and all the other cittas are accompanied by more than seven cetasikas. We may learn this in theory, but we should carefully consider what we learn, and in that way it can be a condition for understanding that the sense-cognitions are entirely different from all the other cittas. This understanding can be a firm foundation for discerning the difference between seeing and thinking, hearing and thinking. The sense-cognitions have the sense organs as their physical base of origin, whereas all the other cittas have the ìheartbaseî as their physical base of origin. The seven cetasikas which accompany every citta are called the ìuniversalsî (sabbacittasådhåranå), and these are: contact (phassa), feeling (vedanå), remembrance (saññå), volition (cetanå), concentration (ekaggatå), vitality (jívitindriya) and attention (manasikåra). When seeing arises, each of the ìuniversalsî performs its own function. Contact, phassa, contacts visible object. Feeling, which is in this case indifferent feeling, experiences the ìtasteî of visible object. Remembrance, saññå, ìmarksî and remembers visible object. Volition, cetanå, coordinates the tasks of the accompanying dhammas. When it accompanies kusala citta or akusala citta, it has a double task: it coordinates the tasks of the accompanying dhammas and it ìwillsî kusala or akusala. Since seeing is vipåkacitta, the result of kamma, volition only coordinates the tasks of the accompanying dhammas. Concentration focusses on visible object. Vitality sustains the life of citta and the accompanying cetasikas until they fall away. Attention, manasikåra, ìdrivesî citta and the accompanying cetasikas to visible object. Seeing could not cognize visible object without the assistance of these seven accompaying cetasikas. Seeing, hearing and the other sense-cognitions are only accompanied by the seven universals. All the other citttas are accompanied by more than seven cetasikas. We may learn this in theory, but when we deeply consider this it will help us to discern the difference between the sense-cognitions and the cittas which are not sense-cognitions, such as thinking. Two cetasikas, ìapplied thinkingî, vitakka, and ìsustained thinkingî, vicåra, accompany all cittas of the sense-sphere other than the sense-cognitions. Vitakka and vicåra arise in sense-door processes of cittas and in mind-door processes of cittas. Thus we see that thinking as used in conventional language is different from the cetasika vitakka arising at the moments other than the sense-cognitions. Vitakka hits or strikes the object so that citta can cognize it and vicåra, sustained thinking, keeps the accompanying dhammas occupied with the object. We may have theoretical understanding of the difference between the sense-cognitions and the other types of citta which are accompanied by vitakka and vicåra, but it is important to consider more thoroughly the difference between them when they occur now, in daily life.
Seeing just sees, it arises on the eyebase, it does not need vitakka. The other cittas in that process need vitakka, they do not see, they do not arise at the eyebase. We can begin to understand that seeing which experiences colour, is different from the cittas accompanied by vitakka which ìstrikesî the object that is experienced. There are many moments of thinking after seeing or hearing. Vitakka strikes the object we are thinking of again and again. Then there may be hearing which just experiences sound. After hearing many moments of thinking arise: we think of the origin of the sound and its meaning, the meaning of words. Cittas are diverse because of the accompanying cetasikas, and also because cittas belong to different jåtis. All cittas can be classified as four jåtis (jåti means nature or birth). They can be classified as: kusala (wholesome), akusala (unwholesome), vipåka (result of kamma) and kiriya (inoperative: neither cause nor result). The sense-cognitions are vipåka, result of kamma. Depending on the kamma that produces them, seeing can be kusala vipåkacitta, experiencing a pleasant object, or akusala vipåkacitta, experiencing an unpleasant object. There are five pairs of sense-cognitions that experience a sense object through each of the five sense-doors. It seems that seeing lasts for a while, but this is not so, it is immediately succeeded by other types of citta within the eye-door process. All the other cittas of the process are accompanied by more than the seven cetasikas which are the ìuniversalsî. The citta that precedes seeing-consciousness is a kiriyacitta (inoperative consciousness) which has the function of adverting to the object through the eye-door. It is the first citta of that process and it is accompanied by the universals and in addition by applied thinking, sustained thinking and determination (adhimokkha). Determination is manifested as decisiveness with regard to the object, it assists the citta in cognizing the object. Decisiveness is the opposite of doubt, it cannot arise together with doubt. There must be determination with regard to the object that impinges on one of the senses so that the sense-door process can begin and one of the sense-cognitions can arise. The sense-cognition which is seeing-consciousness experiences visible object through the eye-door, and after it has fallen away, it is succeeded by other vipåkacittas which are accompanied by the same ten cetasikas. After seeing-consciousnessnes fallen away receiving-consciousness, sampaìicchana-citta, arises, a vipåkacitta that receives the object. This citta experiences visible object but it does not see. It needs, in addition to the universals, the three cetasikas of applied thinking, sustained thinking and determination. After it has fallen away, it is succeeded by another vipåkacitta, the investigatingconsciousness, santíraùa-citta, which investigates the object, just for an extremely short moment. This citta needs the same ten cetasikas as the preceding one, it needs, apart from the Universals, applied thinking which strikes the object, sustained thinking and determination, so that it can perform its function of investigating. This citta is succeeded by the determining-consciousness, votthapana-citta, a kiriyacitta which is accompanied in addition by energy, viriya cetasika, thus by eleven cetasikas. The determining consciousness determines the object, and after that it is succeeded by seven javana-cittas (impulsion) which are, in the case of non-arahats, kusala cittas or akusala cittas. The determining-consciousness, by performing its function for an extremely short moment paves the way for the javana-cittas, kusala cittas or akusala cittas, which succeed it. When we study the processes of cittas we can be reminded that we cannot choose whether kusala citta or akusala citta arises after the votthapanacitta, determining-consciousness and the mind-door adverting-consciousness. These are extremely short moments and it depends on the accumulated cetasikas what types of citta will follow afterwards. In the Suttas we read about kusala and akusala arising after seeing and the other sense-
cognitions, and in the Abhidhamma we learn in detail about the processes: such as the kiriyacitta which is the determining-consciousness or the mind-door advertingconsciousness arising after the vipåkacittas and before the javana-cittas which are kusala cittas or akusala cittas. It is difficult to know the difference between citta and cetasika, and only through insight knowledge one can precisely know the difference, right at the moment they appear. At this moment we know the difference merely in theory. Kusala cittas are accompanied by more cetasikas than the preceding cittas, and among them there are sobhana (beautiful) cetasikas. Akusala cittas are also accompanied by more cetasikas than the preceding cittas, and among them are akusala cetasikas. After the sensedoor process is over, visible object is experienced through the mind-door. The mind-door adverting-consciousness (manodvåråvajjana citta) is a kiriyacitta which is the first citta of the mind-door process and this is succeeded by javana-cittas, which are kusala cittas or akusala cittas. There is a specific order of the cittas arising in sense-door processes and in mind-door processes, and if we consider this carefully, we can understand more clearly that there is no self who can decide whether kusala citta or akusala citta arises after the determiningconsciousness in the sense-door process, and after the mind-door adverting-consciousness in the mind-door process . This depends on conditions; akusala cetasikas and sobhana cetasikas have been accumulated from moment to moment, from life to life and this is a condition for the arising of akusala citta and kusala citta. Each dhamma has its own unchangeable characteristic. Seeing only experiences colour, it is not angry, it is not attached. Anger and attachment are cetasikas that can accompany other moments of citta. Whenever we see, the seeing-consciousness is followed very closely by kusala citta or akusala citta. It all happens so rapidly that we do not notice this. Whenever we do not perform generosity, observe síla or apply ourselves to mental development, the javanacitta is akusala. Then we act, speak or think with akusala citta. When sati sampajañña arises and it is aware of nåma and rúpa, the citta is kusala citta. However, mindfulness does not last and akusala citta is bound to arise again. If there is no awareness the moments of kusala citta or akusala citta cannot be known. Akusala citta with clinging is bound to arise very often, but clinging may be very subtle. We learn about the processes of citta and we have theoretical understanding of these processes. However, it is important to consider more deeply the cittas as they arise in our daily life. We may not be able to know the characteristic of each citta, but we can come to understand that seeing is completely different from akusala citta or kusala citta. We may see more clearly that what we take for ìIî is in the ultimate sense: citta, cetasika and rúpa. Gradually we can come to understand what the Abhidhamma is: the Buddhaís teaching of ultimate or absolute realities, paramattha dhammas. When we verify in our own life the Buddhaís teaching on paramattha dhammas, we shall have no doubt that the Abhidhamma is part of the Tipiìaka. The Abhidhamma gives us a sense of urgency as to the development of kusala: before we realize it, akusala cittas arise. We learn about the processes of cittas, we learn that after seeing, hearing etc. akusala cittas can arise. We do not even notice them, cittas arise and fall away extremely rapidly. As we have seen, there is a certain fixed order in the processes of cittas, and nobody can change this order. It depends on the accumulated cetasikas and many conditions whether kusala cittas or akusala cittas arise within a process, and before we realize it the process is over, and another process begins again.
This can help us when we are in difficult situations. We are only citta, cetasika and rupa, or, in other words, five khandhas, that is the same. When we hear someone's angry words and we react with aversion we can remember that there are only citta, cetasika and rupa that have immediately fallen away. Understanding of realities can condition more mettå. ******* Footnote. 1. The heart base, hadaya-vatthu, is the physical base for the cittas other than the sensecognitions. According to the commentaries it is located near the heart. In the Abhidhamma it is defined as ìthat rúpaî. ******
Chapter 3 The five Khandhas The five khandhas are: rúpakkhandha, including all materiality, vedanåkkhandha, including all types of feeling, saññåkkhandha, remembrance or perception, sankhårakkhandha, including all cetasikas other than feeling and remembrance, viññåùakkhandha, including all cittas. We read in the ìGreater Discourse at the Time of a Full Moonî (Middle Length Sayings III, 109) that the Buddha, while he was staying near Såvatthí in the Eastern Monastery, explained the five khandhas to a monk who questioned him about this: Whatever, monk, is material shape (rúpa), past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, mean or excellent, or whatever is far or near, this is the group of material shape (rúpakkhandha). The Buddha said the same about the four nåma-khandhas. The five khandhas will be seen and understood as they are by the development of insight. Right understanding of nåma and rúpa is developed stage by stage. There are three stages of beginning insight, ìtender insightî, and after that several stages of ìprincipal insightî (mahå-vipassanå ñåùa) follow, before enlightenment is attained. Acharn Sujin said during our discussions that, before we understand what the khandhas are, we should clearly know nåma as nåma and rúpa as rúpa. At the first stage of ìtender insightî the difference between the characteristic of nåma and of rúpa is clearly distinguished. So long as this stage is not reached, we are confused as to what nåma is, and what rupa is. We do not know feeling as nåma. We may think of khandha as a whole, it seems as if it is a concept. It is a concept so long as we have not yet directly experienced the khandhas. When the third stage of ìtender
insightî is reached the five khandhas can be directly experienced, dhammas that arise and fall away, that are past, present and future. We should remember again the words of the ìBhaddekaratta Suttaî, ìA Single Excellent Nightî: "Let not a person revive the past Or on the future build his hopes; For the past has been left behind And the future has not been reached. Instead with insight let him see Each presently arisen state...î The past has just fallen away, and the future that has not come yet, but the future will be present very soon. We should consider in how far we really understand the texts of the Tipiìaka. Acharn Sujin reminded us that when we read the Tipiìaka we shall come to know the amount of our understanding, we shall know ourselves. This reminder helps us to realize how little we understand. When the third stage of insight is reached, also the different groups of rúpa are directly known. Rúpas always arise in groups, kalåpas, consisting of at least eight rúpas. These eight are: the four great Elements of Earth (hardness or softness), Water (cohesion), Fire (temperature: heat or coldness), and Wind (motion or pressure). In addition there are: visible object, odour, flavour and nutrition. Each group of rúpa is surrounded by the rúpa that is space, åkåsa. This is the infinitesimally tiny space that surrounds each group so that the groups are distinct from each other. When at the third stage of tender insight groups of rúpa are directly known, also the space in between them can be known. This makes us realize again how little we know now, at present, and how coarse our awareness is. When, for example, hardness appears there can be awareness of it, but there is no precise understanding yet of that rúpa. Acharn Sujin reminded us that it is the function of paññå to understand realities precisely. She said: ìYou do not have to think of a group. We should not try to understand that word. When there is an idea of group, it is thinking. We do not have to count groups. Develop understanding of visible object: a reality that does not experience something. Nåma is a reality that experiences an object. See the difference between nåma and rúpa. Why should we think of groups? It is a stage of insight knowledge that understands what groups are. People have different abilities. We do not have the wisdom of a Buddha, but that does not mean that all these realities cannot be experienced by insight knowledge in due time.î We are bound to have expectations as to the experience of the arising and falling away of realities, but it is understanding that should be developed so that the impermanence of nåma and rúpa can be realized. Each moment of understanding is very precious, we should be grateful to the Buddha who taught us the Dhamma. If we have expectations as to the development of paññå we have attachment and this will obstruct the development of paññå. We should not forget that the Tipiìaka points to elimination, to the eradication of defilements. When there is even one moment of understanding there is no condition to cling to our progress, and then we are on the right Path. We read in the ìKindred Sayingsî(III, Kindred Sayings on Elements, First Fifty, §1)about personality belief, sakkåyadiììhi. Såriputta explained to Nakulapitar who was sick, how body and mind are sick:
Herein, housefather, the untaught many-folk, who discern not those who are ariyans, who are unskilled in the ariyan doctrine, who are untrained in the ariyan doctrine...these regard the body as the self, they regard the self as having body, body as being in the self, the self as being in the body. ìI am the bodyî, they say, ìbody is mine,î and are possessed by this idea; and so possessed by this idea, when body alters and changes, owing to the unstable and changeful nature of body, then sorrow and grief, woe, lamentation, and despair arise in him... The same is said about the other four khandhas. Såriputta then explained that the person who does not have personality belief, though sick in body, is not sick in mind. We cling to citta, cetasika and rúpa, we take them for self. The are four kinds of personality belief with regard to each of the five khandhas: 1. We believe that we are identical with each of the five khandhas, we identify ourselves with them. 2. We believe that we ìownî them. 3. We believe that the khandhas are contained in ìusî. 4. We believe that we are contained in them. Thus, there are twenty kinds of personality belief. When we ponder over the words khandha and personality belief, we may have doubts, but when satipaììhåna arises we can understand the meaning of the words of the scriptures. We have accumulated the tendency to think of ourselves, the clinging to personality belief may be very subtle. Only paññå can detect this. Khun Anop, one of the teachers at the ìFoundationî said that it seems that there is ìIî who acts, ìIî who thinks. Acharn Sujin asked: ìWhat is I?î The answer was: personality belief, sakkåya diììhi. When we are concerned about someone else, there may still be clinging to ourselves. This may be with wrong view or without wrong view, only paññå can know this. When Lodewijk and I were walking with Acharn Sujin in the garden, in between our discussions, I said that I am sometimes worried about Lodewijk, about his wellbeing. She explained: ìWhen there is ëhimí in the thinking we are still thinking of ourselves. It is very difficult to get rid of belonging. When we do not cling to the notion of a particular person, more mettå can arise." We read that the five khandhas are non-self, but we may have only intellectual understanding of this truth. We should try to find out why it is so difficult for us to see the truth directly. Personality belief (sakkaya ditthi) prevents us from direct understanding of the truth. We have to find out for ourselves what personality belief is when it arises. When we are thinking about different things, when we perform different actions in daily life, is there a subtle clinging to the idea of "I do this"? Or, "this is my opinion"? We have to be very honest with regard to ourselves, and we need patience to listen to the Dhamma, to study and consider it and to be mindful of different characteristics. We cling to nåma and rúpa with personality belief, sakkå diììhi, but we also tend to cling to wrong practice, ìsílabbata paråmåsaî. Only the sotåpanna has eradicated this. Even when we have understood what the right Path is, we can still cling to wrong practice. In the Buddha's time some people were also clinging to wrong practice and they believed that they could obtain a result in this way. The word sílabbata paråmåsa,ìclinging to rite and ritualsî stands for wrong practice, practice that does not lead to the goal. The goal is: detachment from the wrong view of self, and the eradication of all defilements. We have to verify whether a certain practice is based on the teachings and whether it leads to detachment from the concept of self, that is, detachment from the idea of, ìI do it, I
practiseî. Some people may select the objects of sati and pañña, but this will not lead to the goal. We read in the Scriptures what the objects of sati and pañña are. We read in the "Path of Discrimination", I, Treatise on Knowledge, Ch 1: All: "Bhikkhus, all is to be directly known. And what is that all that is to be directly known? ...î Then twohundred and one dhammas are summed up and among them are the following: ìMateriality, feeling, perception, formations, consciousness, is to be directly known...Craving for visible objects, sounds...odours...flavours...tangible objects..ideas is to be directly known." Lobha is the second noble Truth, craving that is the origination of dukkha. Lobha has to be known. When? Now, when it appears. Lobha is difficult to detect because it can be very subtle. When it is not subtle but more intense it may happen that we do not want to know it. But it is reality and if there is no awareness, it cannot be realized as non-self. If one tries to suppress akusala, how can it be known as it is? ìThe allî should be known, there is no exception. Even the tendency to suppress akusala should be known: it is a conditioned nåma. We read in the "Kindred Sayings" (IV, Saîåyatanavagga, Second Fifty, Ch 2, § 70: Then the venerable Upavåna came to see the Exalted One:- " 'Of immediate use is the Norm (Dhamma)! Of immediate use is the Norm!' is the saying, lord. Pray, lord, to what extent is the Norm of immediate use, apart from time, bidding one come and see, leading on (to the Goal), to be experienced, each for himself, by the wise?" "Now here (under my teaching), Upavåna, when a brother sees an object with the eye, he experiences objects, conceives a passion for objects, and of that passion for objects which exists for him personally he is aware, 'I have personally a passion for objects.'..." The same is said with regard to the other doorways. The Buddha then explained that when there is no desire for objects, one is aware of the absence of desire. Realizing akusala as only a conditioned nama is most helpful. We should not have aversion on account of it; when we have aversion, we have even more akusala. At the moment of awareness the citta is kusala. We should not avoid to know akusala. If one avoids knowing it, this causes delusion. Delusion is dangerous, it causes one to believe that one has no tendencies to akusala, that one is a righteous person. Even when we have only begun to develop sati and pañña, it is beneficial to be aware of akusala. When we see akusala as a conditioned reality, we shall also understand other people when they say disagreeable things or commit bad actions. The cittas which motivate speech and action arise because of accumulated tendencies, and they have fallen away already when we are thinking about them. When we have more understanding of realities it will be easier to forgive. We should not select a particular time for practice, because any time is the time for practice. We may be forgetful of realities and distracted. Forgetfulness is also a reality that can and should be known. The ìallî should be known as it is. During our discussions we were reminded about wrong practice. When there is a moment of awareness, we should ask ourselves: do I want more? If we try to find ways and means to have more awareness, we engage in wrong practice, and this prevents us to understand anattå, to understand also sati and paññå as non-self. Or we may take thinking of the stages of insight for direct understanding. Then we are led
by lobha and we may go into the wrong direction. There are many ways to go into the wrong direction, because we have accumulated ignorance and clinging for aeons. So long as we are not sotåpanna we shall have the inclination to wrong practice all the time. It should be detected as such. Someone may think that he needs to concentrate on the three general characteristics of dukkha, impermanence (aniccå) and anattå so that he can attain enlightenment. Only through the development of insight paññå will realize more that whatever appears is dukkha, impermanent and anattå. These are characteristics inherent in the dhammas that appear. There is no specific practice such as concentration on the three characteristics of realities. In the Katavatthu (Points of Controversy), Ch II, 16, we read: ìMay a man by merely repeating the word dukkha induce the four stages of enlightenment, as the Pubbaseliyas (a sect) believed?î We may recite: ìdukkha, dukkhaî, and concentrate on it, but this will not bring any result. Insight should be developed stage by stage, and we cannot forego the first stage of tender insight, taruùa vipassanå: paññå which clearly distinguishes the characteristic of nåma from the characteristic of rúpa. We should first have theoretical understanding that nåma and rúpa are altogether different, otherwise we cannot even begin to develop mindfulness of nåma and rúpa as they appear one at a time, through one doorway at a time. Nåma experiences an object and rúpa does not know anything; it does not feel, it does not remember, it is not attached, it has no aversion. The eye does not know that visible object is impinging on it. Visible object does not know that it is impinging on the eyesense. So long as nåma and rúpa are not clearly distinguished from each other, the arising and falling away of one rúpa at a time and of one nåma at a time cannot be realized. When the impermanence of nåma and rúpa is realized through insight, this will lead to more detachment. We were reminded in Thailand time and again that paññå leads to detachment. Thus, it is not helpful to think, how can I know the three characteristics quickly? One may try very hard to make progress in understanding, but this is clinging and thus counteractive to the development of paññå. In the Scriptures, there is no detailed explanation of the stages of insight knowledge. The stages are mentioned in the ìPath of Discriminationî and the ìVisuddhimaggaî, but they are only described with a few words. When paññå develops and the stages of insight are reached, paññå can directly realize the true nature of realities and it does not need any words. In the Suttas the development of insight is implied in merely the words ìclear comprehensionî, or ìfull understandingî. We read in Kindred Sayings IV, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Ch 3, § 26, Comprehension: Without fully knowing, without comprehending the all, brethren, without detaching himself from, without abandoning the all, a man is incapable of extinguishing Ill... It is explained that the all are: the eye, visible object, seeing, eye-contact, etc. It is then explained that by fully knowing ìthe allî dukkha can be extinguished. The Commentary explains: ìIn this sutta the three kinds of full understanding, pariññås, are referred to: fully knowing (abhijånaÿ), this word refers to ìfull understanding of the knownî (ñåta pariññå). Comprehending (parijånaÿ), this word refers to full understanding as investigation (tíraùa pariññå). Detaching (viråjayaÿ) and abandoning (pajahaÿ) refer to
the third kind of full understanding, which is full understanding as abandoning (pahånapariññå).î Actually, in these few words all stages of insight are included. The ìVisuddhimaggaî(Ch XX,4) explains about the three kinds of full understanding: full understanding of the known (ñåta pariññå) begins at the first stage of insight knowledge (knowing the difference between nama and rupa) up to the second stage (knowing them as conditioned realities). As paññå develops it penetrates the specific characteristics of nåma and rúpa. It comes to know different kinds of nåma and of rúpa. It comes to know the characteristics of all realities that appear and it understands them more clearly as nåma and rúpa. The second kind of full understanding, full understanding as investigation (tíraùa pariññå) begins at the third stage of tender insight (comprehension by groups, beginning to see rise and fall) until the fourth stage which is the first stage of principle insight (mahå-vipassana ñåùa): realizing the arising and falling away of realities. Here paññå comes to penetrate more the general characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anattå. The third kind of full understanding, full understanding as abandoning (pahåna pariññå), begins at the contemplation of dissolution (bhangañåùa), the second stage of principal insight. We can see from this description that as paññå develops it leads to detachment, to abandoning, but it develops stage by stage. If the specific characteristics of nåma and rúpa are not fully understood, the three general characteristics cannot be penetrated. The development of paññå evolves according to a specific order, according to the stages of insight. The late Bhikkhu Dhammadharo said: "Wisdom, paññå, gets beyond words, beyond thinking about states, positions, ideas about a self or a whole, and it sees reality without thinking. Because the function of paññå is not thinking, its function is to see clearly, to penetrate that which we mistake for "sitting". We mistakenly think that a person is sitting. We have the wrong idea of "I am sitting". Anattå is the core of the Buddha's teaching, not attå, self." *******
Chapter 4. The Present Moment. All three parts of the Tipiìaka we read or study pertain to our life at this moment, to the present moment. The purpose of our study is the understanding of the reality appearing now. This point, stressed many times during our discussions in Thailand, was a pertinent reminder for me. The purpose of the Abhidhamma is not theoretical understanding of different classifications, it points directly to realities appearing in our daily life. The Abhidhamma is applied in the development of satipaììhåna. Satipaììhåna is nothing else but the development of understanding of the characteristics of dhammas which appear through the six doorways. That is why Acharn Sujin explained that the study of Abhidhamma is essential for the development of satipaììhåna. If we do not study the Abhidhamma, we do
not know what a sense-door process is, what a mind-door process is, what nåma and rúpa are. Intellectual understanding stemming from reading and listening can grow by weighing things up, by considering the realities appearing in our life, and in this way there are conditions for the arising of sati-sampajañña. It is important to understand what the Abhidhamma really is. Not knowing what the Abhidhamma is can cause a great deal of aversion or even anger. People may be confused about the authenticity of the Abhidhamma when they read that the Buddha taught Abhidhamma to his mother in the Heaven of the Thirtythree . We should consider the message this story contains. As to the surroundings, conventional terms are used describing a situation. It is not relevant to try to find out in how far this story is historical in all of its aspects. The Buddha, when he attained Buddhahood, realized the truth of all dhammas. These are contained in the Tipiìaka. He gave the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to Såriputta. The textual order of the Abhidhamma originated with Såriputta. The Atthasåliní (Introductory Discourse, 16, 17) states: ìThus the giving of the method was to the chief Disciple who was endowed with analytical knowledge, as though the Buddha stood on the edge of the shore and pointed out the ocean with his open hand. To the Elder the doctrine taught by the Blessed One in hundreds and thousands of methods became very clear. Thereafter, the Elder passed on what he had learnt to his five hundred disciples.î Further it is said: "The textual order of the Abhidhamma originated from Såriputta; the numerical series in the Great Book (Paììhåna) was also determined by him. In this way the Elder, without spoiling the unique doctrine, laid down the numerical series in order to make it easy to learn, remember, study and teach the Law (Dhamma)." We read in the ìKindred Sayingsî (II, Kindred Sayings on Cause, Ch 4, § 32) that the Buddha said concerning Såriputta's mastery of the Dhamma and its exposition:
"The Essence of the Dhamma (dhammadhatu) has been so well penetrated by Såriputta, O monks, that if I were to quesion him therein for one day in different words and phrases, Såriputta would reply likewise for one day in various words and phrases. And if I were to question him for one night, or a day and a night, or for two days and nights, even up to seven days and nights, Såriputta would expound the matter for the same period of time, in various words and phrases." In many Suttas Såriputta was praised by the Buddha. He is called the ìGeneral of the Dhammaî, he was very concerned to preserve the Dhamma and in his systematic way he ensured that it was transmitted intact in all details. In the ìDiscourse of the Elephant's Footprintî, Såriputta teaches ultimate realities, beginning with the four noble Truths, and he teaches in the same way as the Buddha. This Sutta is full of Abhidhamma, it is actually Abhidhamma that is taught here as well as its application in daily life. We read in "Abhidhamma Studies" by Ven. Nyanaponika, in his Introduction, a citation from the Atthasåliní (Introductory Discourse, 29): "He who excludes the Abhidhamma (from the Buddha-word) damages the Conquerer's Wheel of Dhamma (jina-cakkaÿ pahåraÿ deti). He excludes thereby the Omniscience of the Tathagata and impoverishes the grounds of the Master's Knowledge of Self-confidence (vesårajja-ñåùa to which Omniscience belongs); he deceives an audience anxious to learn; he obstructs (progress to) the Noble Paths of Holiness; he makes all the eighteen causes of discord appear at once. By so doing he deserves the disciplinary punishment of temporary segregation, or the
reproof of the assembly of monks." We read further on in his ìAbhidhamma Studiesî: 1. ìThe Buddha has to be regarded as the first Abhidhammika, because, according to the Atthasåliní, "he has already penetrated the Abhidhamma when sitting under the tree of Enlightenment." 2. "The Abhidhamma, the ultimate doctrine, is the domain of omniscient Buddhas only, not the domain of others"(Atthasåliní). These profound teachings are unmistakenbly the property of an enlightened being, a Buddha.î What matters most is understanding the content of the Abhidhamma, the Buddhaís teaching on realities. The Abhidhamma gives us all details about citta, cetasika and rúpa, and all their various conditions which are very complex. It depends on someoneís inclinations how much he wants to study, but whatever we study, we should consider and apply it to our life so that it becomes meaningful to us personally. Then we can see for ourselves that the Abhidhamma does not consist of dry, scientific, abstract classifications. We should not forget the second Book of the Abhidhamma, the ìBook of Analysisî which gives many examples of dhammas as they occur in daily life. In this Book we learn, for example, all the details and different shades of conceit, and also what the objects of conceit are. We also learn that what may appear to be kusala is in reality akusala. We learn about our hidden unwholesome motivations which are difficult to detect. The Abhidhamma gives us reminders which can have a direct impact on our life. We can gain great benefit from the study of the Abhidhamma, it can help us to be less deluded about ourselves. Although the Buddha also taught by way of conventional terms, depending on the ability of the audience to grasp his teaching, all three parts of the Tipiìaka explain the same truths and the same path to enlightenment. We can see that Suttanta and Vinaya also contains Abhidhamma, as pointed out before. We read in the Suttas that the Buddha spoke about the five khandhas, time and again. What else are these but citta, cetasika and rúpa. We do not need to study all details, but it is important to have a basic understanding of nåma and rúpa, of the different processes of cittas that experience objects through the six doors. At the same time we should remember that whatever we learn from the teachings pertains to our daily life now. We learn about kusala citta and akusala citta, but when they arise, it is difficult to have precise understanding of them. We often take for kusala what is akusala. We may believe that we have only kusala cittas when we assist someone else, but in reality there may also be clinging to our kusala, or there may be conceit. When satisampajañña arises we shall know the difference between kusala citta and akusala citta, we shall know the characteristic of attachment, lobha, even when it is very subtle. Satisampajañña knows realities without words, without thinking of definitions; at that moment there is no speculation about realities. We shall also understand more clearly the meaning and purpose of the Abhidhamma: the development of understanding which can eradicate defilements. Direct understanding is different from theoretical understanding, but it is in conformity with what we learnt from the texts. Acharn Sujin said ìThe Abhidhamma is the only way to see dhamma as dhamma, to become enlightened. Its goal is development of right understanding.î Acharn Sujin said that when one reads a cookbook, one may memorize all the details, the ingredients, and the method of cooking from a book, but one may never know how the food tastes. Even so, one may read a great deal about Vinaya, Sutta, or Abhidhamma but never see the true characteristic of dhamma. Reading the Scriptures can be compared to reading or memorizing a cookbook. Sati, mindfulness, of the characteristic of the nåma or
rúpa that appears right now is like the tasting of food. No words are needed to describe a particular flavour, but we know how it tastes. It is the same with direct understanding of realities. We have to know the right conditions for the arising of sati-sampajañña. Jonothan pointed out the conditions for the arising of direct awareness and understanding of realities. He wrote: ìThe conditions for developing this mere understanding are not easy to appreciate. I understand them to include: repeated listening to and reading of the actual teachings, the Tipiìaka and their Commentaries, reflecting on what has been heard or studied, applying what has been understood from the listening and reflecting. To many people this sounds like a purely intellectual exercise, but properly understood it is much more than that. It is or can be a condition for a better understanding of the presently arising reality... I think part of the reason for the scepticism that many have about this is that there is no immediate and direct 'result'. The results come in their own good time. The accumulation of understanding is very gradual and subtle and it is absolutely not self.î The Abhidhamma is immediately applied in the development of Satipaììhåna. The Commentary to the ìSatipaììhåna Suttaî (Middle Length Sayings I, no 10) and also the ìVisuddhimaggaî (VIII, 69) often use the word ìyogåvacaraî, which is translated as ìmeditatorî. Yoga means skill, and avacara means frequenting, going around. Acharn Supee explained that yogåvacara is not a static notion, that it is the citta that develops paññå. The Buddha taught by way of convention, vohåra, or by way of ultimate realities. When the word yogåvacara is used, the Buddha teaches by way of convention, by way of persons (puggala desana); however, yogåvacara refers to the ultimate reality of the citta that develops paññå. If we understand that in the ultimate sense life lasts only as long as one moment of citta that experiences an object, this explanation becomes very meaningful; it is not at all theoretical. It helps us to see that meditation is only one moment of citta and that understanding can be developed in a moment. What else is there but the present moment to develop understanding? In this way the word yogåvacara can be a reminder not to be neglectful, but to consider and contemplate the dhamma appearing now. This can be a condition for the arising of sati-sampajañña when the time is ripe. We discussed the meaning of the word samatha. Samatha is actually a moment of kusala citta, citta that is free from akusala. Acharn Sujin said that there can be samatha at this moment. There is calm with each kusala citta, but since these moments are very short, it is difficult to know the characteristic of calm. We cannot know the characteristic of calm merely by thinking about it. There must be right understanding of samatha, the characteristic of samatha should be known at the present moment. Direct understanding can distinguish the moment of kusala citta and the moment of akusala citta. Thus, we need sati-sampajañña in samatha as well as in vipassanå, but they are of different levels in the case of samatha and of vipassanå. We read in the Scriptures about people who had accumulated the inclination to the development of calm and who could, by means of specific meditation subjects, attain high degrees of calm, even different stages of jhåna. The ìVisuddhimaggaî (Ch II-XII) describes the way of development of calm by means of specific meditation subjects. However, also for those who are unable to develop high degrees of calm, there are four
meditation subjects which can condition moments of calm in daily life. We read in the Subcommentary to the ìSatipaììhåna Suttaî (Middle Length Sayings I, 10) about four meditation subjects for all occasions: ìThe words, the meditation subjects for all occasions, mean: recollection of the Buddha, loving-kindness, mindfulness of death, and meditation of foulness. This set of four meditations which is guarded by the yogi (practitioner), he called ëthe meditation subjects for all occasionsí.î These four meditation subjects are very suitable for daily life, for all occasions. During our daily activities we can often recollect with confidence and gratefulness the Buddha who taught us the Dhamma. Because of his teachings we can understand the different cittas that motivate our actions, and the nåmas and rúpas that appear all the time. As to loving-kindness, we are in the company of others time and again. The Buddha taught us the characteristic of mettå which is altogether different from selfish affection. He taught us not to restrict mettå to particular persons we are familiar with, but to extend it to everybody we meet. There are many opportunities to have mindfulness of death, not only when we see someone who has died. Actually, there is death at each moment citta falls away, this is momentary death. The falling away of the last citta of this lifespan is not different from the falling away of the citta at the present moment. Acharn Sujin said: ìWhy should we have fear of death? Death is only one moment. We do not know when it will happen, we do not know the next moment. If there is sati now we are not neglectful of the development of satipaììhåna.î Thus, mindfulness of death can arise at any time. As regards meditation on the foulness of the body, asubha, in samatha this is developed by concentration on a dead body or by recollection on the ìParts of the Bodyî, with the aim to attain calm. However, the foulness of the body is also a subject appropriate for daily life. We are confronted with the foulness of the body all the time, we cannot avoid this. Through satipaììhåna we can learn to see the body as elements, and then we shall be less inclined to find it beautiful or take it for ìmineî. The element of hardness which arises and falls away is not beautiful. When characteristics of realities are realized as they are it can be understood that they are not attractive. The teaching on the meditation subjects for all occasions makes it clear that there is no specific time for the development of any kind of kusala, this depends on conditions. There is no rule that samatha should be developed before vipassanå. There is no specific time for the development of vipassanå. It is thanks to the Abhidhamma that we can learn what we are still ignorant of, otherwise we may believe that we have a great deal of understanding. The Abhidhamma shows how intricate realities and their conditions are. The Abhidhamma explains about the processes of cittas which evolve in a particular order because of the appropriate conditions, without there being a person who can direct them. It depends on the individual to what extent he wants to study the details of the Abhidhamma, but it is beneficial to keep in mind some basic principles. The Abhidhamma teaches that all realities of our daily life are mere elements, each performing their own function and proceeding according to their own conditions. The four great elements (solidity, cohesion, heat and motion) perform each their own function, as is also taught in the Suttas, such as the ìMahå-Råhulovåda Suttaî. We digest our food because these elements perform each their own function. Nobody uses
a ladle to push the food through, nobody lights a fire in the stomach so that heat causes our food inside to be digested, as we read in the Commentary to the ìSatipaììhåna Suttaî. Also cittas perform each their own function. The cittas that arise in processes proceed according to conditions and arise in a specific order. The cetasikas that accompany cittas perform each their own function. Understanding realities as elements each performing their own function, as taught in detail in the Abhidhamma, can be our guiding principle in the development of vipassanå. Sati of satipaììhåna has the function of being mindful of an object, and paññå has the function of understanding that object. Right from the beginning we should see them as elements performing their own functions. This leads to abandoning of the idea of "I am practising, I am developing vipassanå". Vipassanå, insight, develops according to its own conditions in different stages. There is no person to be found who meditates or tries to concentrate on specific nåmas and rúpas. We should not have an idea of self who is guiding paññå, right understanding. Sati and paññå can be accumulated, so that there will be conditions again for their arising. We should not underestimate the force of paññå that is accumulated. Acharn Sujin stressed time and again that there are three rounds of understanding of the four noble Truths: sacca ñåùa, which is the understanding of the truth (sacca means truth), kicca ñåùa, which is the practice of right mindfulness of nåma and rúpa (kicca means function), kata ñåùa, the realization of the truth (kata means: what has been done). As to the first round, sacca ñåùa, this is the firm understanding of what the four noble Truths are. It is understanding of what dukkha is: the objects appearing at this moment. They are impermanent and thus they are unsatisfactory. The impermanence of realities can be directly understood when satipaììhåna is developed. We may ask ourselves why sati does not arise more frequently. The reason is, that sacca ñåùa is not yet firm enough, it is not well established so as to condition kicca ñåùa, the direct awareness of one nåma or rúpa at a time. Sacca ñåùa is firm understanding of the truth and the right Path, so that one does not deviate from the right Path. We should thoroughly understand the cause of dukkha, clinging. This is the second noble Truth and it has to be known now, when it appears. So long as there is clinging we shall continue being in the cycle of birth and death, there will be no end to dukkha. We should realize it when we cling to an idea of self, and when we cling to satipaììhåna. When we engage in a particular practice with the aim to have sati more often, there is wrong practice which causes us to deviate from the right Path. When sacca ñåùa gradually develops it can condition the arising of satipaììåna, and then kicca ñåùa, knowledge of the task, begins to develop. When we are convinced that there is no other way leading to enlightenment but the development of satipaììhåna, we shall not deviate from the right Path. The right Path is the fourth noble Truth and this lead to the cessation of dukkha, nibbåna, which is the third noble Truth. Acharn Sujin stressed the importance of the three phases because they make it apparent that sati-sampajañña can only arise when there is a firm foundation knowledge of the objects of satipaììhåna and the way of its development. It reminds us that paññå is gradually developed from life to life. The level of intellectual understanding, pariyatti, conditions awareness and understanding of the characteristics of nama and rupa that appear now. This is the beginning of patipatti, the level of practice and this will eventually lead to the realization of the truth, paìivedha. Very gradually nåma can be known as nåma and rúpa as rúpa, and
stages of insight can arise, but we do not know when they will arise. It takes many lives, but we should not be impatient. The teachings are still available and we should be grateful for each moment understanding. Paññå can grow, and one day it can become paññå of the level of paìivedha, the penetration of the four noble Truths. When lokuttara paññå arises, the unconditioned dhamma, nibbåna, is experienced. On our last morning in Kraeng Kacang, when we had breakfast in the garden, Acharn Sujin first spoke about Dhamma in Thai. She explained that sacca ñåùa is not merely theoretical knowledge of the four noble Truths, it includes also awareness of the dhammas one studies. If there can be sati at this moment we begin to have more understanding of all the dhammas we learn through our study and also of the four noble Truths. The right practice leads to detachment, but detachment is against our nature. We have accumulated clinging for aeons. When akusala arises and we believe that we should not be aware of such an object, it conditions the wrong Path. We may be impatient, frustrated, when sati does not often arise, there is a great deal of clinging to "I". We should be very sincere, very honest, to see when we are deluded by our attachment to result, to quick progress. We have to understand that paññå develops when there are the right conditions for its development: association with the right friend in Dhamma, listening, considering, asking questions, applying what one has heard. During our stay in Thailand we experienced the benefit of listening and discussing the Dhamma. It was most valuable to be reminded that when we read Suttas we have to understand dhamma appearing at this moment. In this way the messages contained in the Suttas become very relevant to our personal life. The Buddha taught Dhamma so that we can develop our own understanding. In Kraeng Kacang we had all our meals outside and after dinner, when it was already dark, a small group of us were sitting in a corner under a beautifully carved wooden canopy, discussing again Dhamma. Acharn Sujin reminded us that we should appreciate a moment of right understanding and not wish for more. Such a moment is very precious, it is accumulated so that understanding can grow. We read in the Dhammapada, vs 182: ìDifficult it is to be born human, difficult is the life of a man, difficult it is listening to the true Dhamma, difficult is the arising of enlightened ones.î We can still listen to the Dhamma and consider what we heard, because today the teachings are still available to us. These verses remind us that we should not be neglectful, but use every opportunity to listen, to study and to develop right understanding of what appears now. We were reminded time and again during our discussions that there are dhammas appearing right now and that they can be objects of sati-sampajañña. ******** Footnote 1. See Chapter 1, dealing with the ìBaddhekaratta Suttaî, Discourse on ìA Single Excellent Nightî (ìMiddle Length Sayingsî III, 134) and its Commentary.
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