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Yoniso Manasikara

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What is Yoniso Manasikara?
Yoniso manasikara means to apply the mind skillfully, or wise reflection. It is thinking in terms of
causal relations, such as the consequences of thoughts and actions, or by way of problem-solving, in
order to help us to see things as they really are, leading to wiser decisions. Ultimately, it is the
conscious use of thought to bring the mind to peace.

Yoniso means, literaly, "to the womb". The meaning is, getting to the core or essence of the matter,
doing something with understanding of the pith and substance, understanding cause and effect,
understanding the heart of the matter.
As for translating manasikara, it simply means to keep something in mind.
(manasi = in the mind, kara = made, done.)











In Buddhist texts, yoniso manisaka is listed among the four “virtues conducive to growth,”
These are:
1) Association with a wise friend (such as a parent or teacher)
2) Listening to good teaching
3) Wise reflection
4) Practicing in accordance with good teaching.

As such, yoniso manisaka cultivates mindfulness and full awareness, which, in turn, are the
conditions for the arising of ‘Right View,’ or understanding the true nature of the Four Noble Truths
and the law of kamma.

Yoniso manasikara—wise reflection
“The emptying of the mind of thoughts, or concentration of the mind on just one thing.”
It is clear that concentration, by itself, does not guarantee the development of wisdom. Buddha
attributed to the application and accomplishment of wise attention as a key factor needed to
progress through each stage of awakening and to fully realize the Dhamma.

In a balanced practice, concentration and mindfulness are important tools to develop and use. The
point is that we must know how to use them wisely and this is where wise reflection helps greatly.
With wise reflection we can develop a balanced practice with right view, which will guide the other
factors of the noble eightfold path, and bring us to deeper wisdom and peace. “Right view comes
first.”




Etymology
Yoniso comes from the Sanskrit
„yoni‟ meaning “the womb or origin (place of birth).”

Manasikara means “directing the mind or attention.‟‟

So yoniso manisaka means literally “directing the attention to the core or essence of
the matter.”

As the Buddha has taught:

“With regard to internal factors, I do not perceive any other single factor as helpful as wise
reflection in doing so much benefit for one in training, who has not attained the heart’s goal
but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. One who reflects wisely
abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skilful.” (It 16)

There is a good exposition about the difference between wise keeping-in-mind and unwise keeping-
in-mind:

"Bhikkhus! In the world the ignorant worldling, who is not in the habit of seeing the Ariyas,
who is not proficient in the dhamma of the Ariyas and who is not trained and disciplined in the
dhamma of the Ariyas, who is not in the habit of seeing the Virtuous, who is not proficient in
the dhamma of the Virtuous and who is not trained and disciplined in the dhamma of the
Virtuous, does not know the factors which should be considered attentively and the factors
which should not be considered attentively.

Not discriminating the factors which should be considered attentively from the factors which
should not be considered attentively, he considers attentively the factors which should not be
considered and does not consider attentively the factors which should be considered.

If we consider how hate arises in our mind for example, we read that the Buddha advises his Monks
to guard their senses. When the senses are unguarded the mind can easily and frequently come into
contact with disagreeable objects of sight, sound, touch, taste or hearing. When the mind comes
into contact with a disagreeable object such as these aversion or dislike will arise as a direct result.
By this means hate is prompted to arise in our minds even when we are intending to abandon hate

Wisdom and Yoniso Manasikara
Most Buddhists would agree that the practice of Yoniso Manasikara would improve the one’s ability
to see beyond that is to see. That a wise reflection would indeed help one to understand the four
noble truth, see beyond the eight fold path thus ultimately helping the self in attaining Nirvana.

“Venerable Prayut Payutto writes, ‘Yoniso manasikara directly precedes wisdom. It acts as a
link between sati, mindfulness, and panya, wisdom. It is that which guides the stream of
thought in such a way that wisdom is able to get down working and achieving results.”

--Neil Amas, Director of Panyaden School








Hate and negative impacts of unwise attention
If our attention moves to a disagreeable mental object again hate will arise at the same time. Our
untrained mind has the tendency to dwell on disagreeable objects such as memories of an
unpleasant experience in our recent past or the loss of something of importance.

These habits are another means responsible for causing arising of aversion or hate. Another name
for this attention we are giving to unfruitful objects of the senses or mind is unwise attention. At
that time if we ask our self “where does our hate come from? “How does hate arise in our mind?”
we can get a better view of the situation.

The unwholesome mental state is coming from unwise attention we are giving to particular objects
of our senses or mind. The same processes of mind occur with the arising of sense desire and greed.
Unwise attention is also a cause for the arising these unwholesome mental states. We can
appreciate the importance of developing wise attention when we understand some of the outcomes
of unwise attention.

“Many people today think that freedom and unrestraint are synonyms and that the taming of
the self is a hindrance to self -development. In the teaching of the Buddha however it is quite
different. The self must be subdued and tamed on right lines if it is to become truly well.

The Buddha, The Tamed, teaches the Dhamma for the purpose of taming the human heart
(mind). The tamed mind has the property of being calm, and when concentrated that calm
mind can see things as they really are. (Pali: samahito yatha bhutum pajanati)”

-- “Buddha Dhyana Dana Review Volume 9 Number 2, 1999, P. 10.

Awareness plus right attitude, and wise contemplation equals success
Feeling good is not enough to help a person attain a certain success in finding his path. Even if the
person is happy because he won a lottery or the person is helpful but only when his/her crush is
around, it is not enough. We must have the right attitude added in our day to day activities and
consciousness. While doing so, we must also recognize that we all have wrong attitudes.

“ We all have wrong attitudes; we cannot help having them. So do not try to have the right
attitude, try to recognize if you have the wrong or the right attitude instead. It is important to
be aware when you have right attitudes, but it is even more important to recognize and
investigate your wrong attitudes. Try to understand your wrong attitudes; find out how they
affect your practice, and see how they make you feel. So watch yourself and keep checking to
see what state of mind you are practicing with. “

--- Sayadaw U Tejaniya on Right Attitude





Right attitude helps you to notice ‘the good’ and ‘the bad’ in every happening while being in a calm
and observant mental and emotional condition. Everything that you experience is an opportunity to
apply yoniso manasikara and by doing so you will be able to see how you mind will react to this
experiences whether good or bad. With yoniso manasikara, you will be able to see whether you are
hateful, overjoyed, and apathetic, discouraged, encouraged, and so on and so forth. Most
importantly, it will help gauge whether the mind accepts things as they are or insert forcefully what
the mind prefers.
“You are not trying to make things turn out the way you want them to happen. You are trying
to know what is happening as it is. Thinking things should be this way or that, wanting this or
that to happen or not to happen is expectation. Expectations create anxiety and can lead to
aversion. It is important that you become aware of your attitudes!

It is a wrong attitude to judge the practice and become dissatisfied with the way it is going.
The dissatisfaction either arises from the idea that things are not the way we think they should
be, from a desire that they should be different, or from ignorance of what right practice is.
These attitudes close the mind and hinder the practice.

Try to recognize dissatisfaction, to fully accept it, and to watch it very alertly. During this
process of observation and exploration of the experience of dissatisfaction, its causes can
become clear.”

--- --- Sayadaw U Tejaniya on Right Attitude

Recognizing that we are dissatisfied is one thing but recognizing the cause of our dissatisfaction is
another. By having an understanding of the root cause of our dissatisfaction through yoniso
manasikara (right attitude) we can find release from it through yoniso manasikara (wise
contemplation). We can then be able become more mindful on our judgments and gradually forget
all of these dissatisfaction.
However, if we do not accept that we are dissatisfied (that we are suffering or that we are hurting)
would just strengthen it. This dissatisfaction will hurt your search for peace, growth, and even
success in your contemplative life.








Titthiya Sutta: Sectarians (excerpt)

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu © 2005

"Monks, if you are asked by wanderers of other sects, 'Friends, there are these three qualities.
Which three? Passion, aversion, and delusion. These are the three qualities. If you are asked what
the distinguishing factor among these three qualities is, you should answer them in this way:

Friends, passion carry little blame and are slow to fade.
Aversion carries great blame and is quick to fade.
Delusion carries great blame and is slow to fade.

If they ask why sleeping passion arises, or arisen passion tends to grow and be abundant?'
Tell them, 'The theme of the attractive. For anyone who attends inappropriately to the theme of the
attractive, sleeping passion arises and arisen passion tends to tends to grow and be abundant.'

If they ask why sleeping aversion arises, or arisen aversion tends to grow and be abundanct?'
Tell them, 'The theme of irritation. For anyone who attends inappropriately to the theme of
irritation, sleeping aversion arises and arisen aversion tends to growth and abundance.'

If they ask why sleeping delusion arises, or arisen delusion tends to growth and abundance?'
Tell them 'Inappropriate attention. For anyone who attends inappropriately, sleeping delusion arises
and arisen delusion tends to tends to grow and be abundant.'

If they ask why sleeping passion does not arise, or arisen passion is abandoned?'
Tell them 'The theme of the unattractive. For anyone who attends appropriately to the theme of the
unattractive, sleeping passion does not arise and arisen passion is abandoned.'

If they ask why sleeping aversion does not arise, or arisen aversion is abandoned?'
Tell them 'Good will as an awareness-release. For one who attends appropriately to good will as an
awareness-release, sleeping aversion does not arise and arisen aversion is abandoned...'

If they ask why sleeping delusion does not arise, or arisen delusion is abandoned?'
Tell them 'Appropriate attention. For anyone who attends appropriately, sleeping delusion does not
arise and arisen delusion is abandoned. This is the reason, this is the cause, why sleeping delusion
does not arise and arisen delusion is abandoned."








Sources:

“Buddha Dhyana Dana Review Volume 9 Number 2, 1999, P. 10. “Five Day Bhavana Course – 11
to 15 June 1999” by John D. Hughes.

The Importance of Wise Reflection in Meditation by Steve Weissman,
Buddhist Publication Society
Kandy • Sri Lanka

http://contemplatingtruth.wordpress.com/blogs/practice/contemplative_meditation/
http://www.panyaden.ac.th/blog/yoniso-manasikara-by-neil-amas/

http://sharanam.tumblr.com/post/3233983341/sayadaw-u-tejaniya-on-right-attitude-yoniso

http://ask.sirimangalo.org/1261/what-is-the-proper-definition-of-yoniso-manasikara-pali

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh463-p.html#Yonisomanasikrawisereflection
http://www.ticketyboohealthcoaching.com/blog.php?categories=cartoon



Prepared and edited by:
Dani Tindungan Jr.