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( An a t ta )
Adaption by Jinavamsa
( a n a t ta - n o n se lf ) C O N T E M P LA T IO N
As expounded in the
Anattalakkhan a Sutta Non(The Great Discourse on Non-Self)
Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw
From a Translation by
U Ko Lay
Adaption by Jinavamsa
Published by Leong Yok Kee E2L4A Selesa Hillhomes Bukit Tinggi 28750 Bentong Pahang Email: email@example.com Copyright by Leong Yok Kee Any part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording without prior written permission from the publisher. Front and back cover by Leong Yok Kee
Title: On Selflessness Contemplation - Anatta Author: Leong Yok Kee Buddhism - customs and practices Buddhism - doctrines
Published in Kuala Lumpur Printed by: Majujaya Indah Sdn. Bhd (85902-U) 68 Jalan 14E Ampang New Village 68000 Selangor Darul Ehsan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tel: 03-42916001
PREFACE THE ANATTA-LAKKHANA SUTTA INTRODUCTION MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS PART ONE: THE FIVE AGGREGATES 1. The Material Body (Form) Practical Instructions 2. Feeling 3. Perception 4. Mental Formation 5. Consciousness PART TWO: Notes on Contemplation PART THREE: Maturing of Insight The Six Characteristics Development of A Special Vipassana Reflection of an Arahant 6 9 12 13 20 20 27 47 65 75 91
134 144 149 150
The Highest Gift is the Gift of Dhamma This Literature is for FREE DISTRIBUTION Grateful Acknowledgement is extended to all who have helped in their special way to make this Dhamma Gift available to those seeking the Truth. To those of you who made the request to remain anonymous, grateful thanks are also rendered and to those whom I have missed mentioning, no less are your merits. Thanks are very much due to you who have made donations to the printing of this Dhamma literature; without which it will definitely not see the light of day. Special thanks for financial support to: Mooi Seng and Chu, Doris, Sister Tan Teck Beng and Family, The Dhamma Family KL, Fong Weng Meng and Family. This Dhamma literature is compiled so ALL can share the joy in knowing the greatest Teacher ever: The Blessed One. May all beings shared in these merits thus acquired.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
THE BLESSED ONE: entity’, hikkhus, attachment to the view of a ‘living entity’, ‘self’ or a ’soul’ inherent within each one, that perform, empowers “I”, You, He, She to perform, at its
direction is fundamental and difficult to dispel.
Within the mindset of every worldling, moral defilement (kilesa), such as greed and attachment, proliferate. Attachment occurs in respect of all things that are pleasant and agreeable. These moral defilement clings onto the objects arising through the six sense-doors. The First Discourse, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, or the Great Discourse on the Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dhamma, was delivered by the Blessed One exactly two months after His Enlightenment.
This was on a day when the full moon was just appearing in the evening and the sun had not yet set; so there was the sun and the moon side by side in the evening sky as the First Discourse was set forth and the Dhamma Wheel began its roll. At the close of this First Discourse, Kondanna, the leader of the Five Ascetics, became a Stream Enterer (Sotapanna, the first of four stages towards arahantship). By attaining this stage, he had realised the truth of the Dhamma and had eradicated the misconception of a "self" or a living entity that controls all within the material body. Nevertheless, self-pride still lingered in his mind. The remaining four ascetics had not yet ‘entered into the stream’ as yet. The Blessed One, in a short while after the First Discourse, continued teaching and delivered the Second Discourse, the Anattalakkhana Sutta, expounding and explaining the reality of ‘non-self’ as opposed to the hitherto, wrongly held view of ‘a self’ or a soul. At this time there was as yet not a single teacher who was able to realise and teach this aspect of humanity, as the Dhamma had not yet been re-established. In actuality all teachers had till now taught their students to develop the self. On hearing the Blessed One’s Second Discourse, and adhering to the Blessed One’s instructions, all five attained Arahantship, by virtue of which they were entirely free from all human passions, including conceit. The Blessed One re-instated the Dhamma Wheel with the First Discourse, and it was at this juncture that the present Sasana began to unfold.
At this time, those who had matured perfections accumulated in previous life times and endowed with previous insight knowledge developed through Vipassana as taught by previous Blessed Ones, were able to achieve keen concentration and insightful meditative contemplation leading them to the state of arahantship. Like the Group of Five Ascetics who were so endowed, those who were guided and instructed by the Blessed One in His lifetime were able to achieve the state of arahantship in this present Sasana. This book contains a full exposition of the methods of contemplation pertaining to the realisation of non-selfness, leading to the attainment of Nibbana.
THE ANATTA-LAKKHANA SUTTA The Non-self Characteristic Discourse
(Samyutta Nikaya XXII.59)
Thus, have I heard: On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Benares, in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Isipatana.
There He addressed the Bhikkhus of the Group of Five: "Bhikkhus” - - - “Venerable Sir," they replied.
THE BLESSED ONE then said: Bhikkhus, the Five Aggregates (Material Form, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formation, Consciousness) are NonNonselves, souls; selves, selves, not entities or souls; were they selves, then they one would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of these Aggregates: not Aggregates: 'Let these be thus, let them be not thus'; and Non-self, since these Aggregates are Non-self, so they lead to affliction, and none can have it of these Aggregates as: let 'Let these Aggregates be thus, let them be not thus'.
Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it: Is form permanent or impermanent? Impermanent, Venerable Sir. Now, impermanent, Now, is what is impermanent, painful or pleasant? Painful, Venerable Sir. Now, Now, is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to mine, change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this is I, this is self'? my self'? No, Venerable sir. feeling; perception; consciousness Is feeling; perception; mental formation; consciousness impermanent? permanent or impermanent? Impermanent, Impermanent, Venerable Sir. Now, impermanent permanent, Now, is what is impermanent, pleasant or painful? Painful, Venerable Sir. Now, is what is impermanent, what is painful and subject to Now, what mine, change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this is I, this is self'? my self'? No, Venerable sir.
So, bhikkhus any kind of Aggregates whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near, must with right understanding how it is, thus: be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not myself.' Bhikkhus, when a noble follower who has heard the truth sees thus, he finds estrangement in the Five Aggregates. When he finds estrangement thus, passion fades out. With the fading of passion, he is liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that he is liberated. He understands: 'Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.' That is what the Blessed One said; the bhikkhus were glad, and they approved his words. Now during this utterance, the minds of the bhikkhus of the group of five were liberated from taints through clinging no more.
A Self, a Soul or a Living Entity, is Not a Reality. misconstrued It is a misconstrued usage. What really exists, in the Ultimate Sense, is a continuous arising and passing away of Corporeal and Mental processes; Impersonal Phenomena.
ll teachings or beliefs outside of the Blessed One's Dispensation fall under the category of beliefs in a SELF, a SOUL. They hold to the view that there is such a thing as a SELF, a SOUL, or a LIVING ENTITY that empowers; which they believe resides within the material body of all living creatures.
In the midst of the world holding fast to notions of SELF or SOUL, the Blessed One declared: It is essential to thoroughly realise experientially (not proper through intellectual understanding) the nature of SELF-LESSNESS, the reality of NON-PERSONALITY. The Blessed One explained that: With The Six Sense Bases Arising, (Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body, Mind) There Arises A World; A Being.
MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS Myriad and vast tomes have been written by the world’s wise men and many were and still are the discussions generated in relation to these two often used words. Are they the same and do they refer to the same thing when we use them in our conversation and writings? To know them we need to go to the source of the words. To visualise the whole, we need to see its parts, base or foundation; thus, to contemplate on “non-self” we need to know how we perceive a “Self”, or my “Self”. Quote: What is mind? What is consciousness? There seems to be no single answer that explains the phenomenon of mind. The contemporary views of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and cybernetics all come up with different interpretations of mind and consciousness. On the topic of consciousness, the British psychologist Stuart Sutherland once wrote: "Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon; it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written on it." Unquote (Wikipedia). Hopefully this won’t keep you from reading on. To bring the matter to a more definable state; we will refer to these two nebulous states in the eyes or mind really, of the Greatest philosopher of all times, the Blessed One, who has been able to define it succinctly and clearly, without a mite of ambiguity whatsoever.
He further taught how we can actually realise these two states and know them as we know the number of fingers at the extremity of our palms. In those Dhamma literature where consciousness is the subject of the writing, the words, mind and consciousness are often used in such a way that to the uninitiated, confusion will arise as to their exact relationship to each other, or whether they refer to the same object. It is hoped that the following will serve as a explanation to distinguish the two mental states and render the reading of such literature more explicit. Mind and Matter arise together, originating from kamma; they are also named as the five aggregates. Matter (rupa in Pali), being the physical component, and the four states of Mind (nama in Pali); feeling, perception, mental pictures or formations and consciousness being the other mental component. In other words, these five aggregates, conditionally coming together by kammic bonds, are the components that make up what we call a human being. Thus we now understand that the “whole” human being is made up of the parts of aggregates comprising; material body, feeling, perception, mental pictures and consciousness. The Blessed One taught that the material body or form is a conditioned thing, made up of: earth, water, air and temperature. The “whole” human can now be contemplated on, in all its different components: earth, water, air, temperature, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. That is what is referred to as a “person” and some perceive it as an immortal entity.
Mind is kamma originated. The present mind is not the previous mind; its rebirth is conditioned by kammic results from previous existences. The Blessed One taught that kamma factor brings along with it the tendencies and potentials of previous existences. It is the kammic energy that finds a new entity, the old “housing” having been discarded and is no more. Consciousness (citta in Pali) will only arise when an object is present. Consciousness is a component of the mind. It arises bringing along a few concomitants or mental factors (cetasikas); it does not arise by itself, it comes together with descriptive components of mental factors. Some positive mental factors are; faith, mindfulness, shame, fear of doing wrong deeds, non greed, non hatred, morally correct way of doing things. Some negative mental factors are greed, wrong view, conceit, hatred, jealousy, worries and so on. We are conscious of objects all the time. This nature of awareness of objects is consciousness. Here awareness does not mean comprehension by knowledge or wisdom. It means ability to take in objects through sense organs. Consciousness works as: On seeing a visible object, consciousness of sight appears; on hearing a sound, consciousness of sound appears; on smelling a scent, consciousness of smell appears; on sampling a taste, consciousness of taste appears; on feeling a touch, consciousness of touch appears; on perceiving those five objects of senses and all other perceptible objects, consciousness of mind appears. Thus, the capability of taking in an object concerned is called consciousness.
THE NATURE OF MIND The Dhammapada says: ‘Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is foremost; mental states are all mind made. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts, suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow’. It further states that mind can travel afar, it wanders alone. It has no material form and it generally dwells in a cave. MIND CAN TRAVEL AFAR The mind does not move physically away like a man walking. But, as it can take in an object at a distance far away from where you are, it seems as if it has gone there. For example, while you are in a place “A”, and think of something or someone in “B”, your mind does not actually travel to “B”, but registers its awareness of “B” while still in “A”. It can perceive an object at a distance, thus, it is said: "Mind can travel afar". MIND WANDERS ALONE Consciousness of things appears in the mind and vanishes very swiftly. Billions of units of consciousness will have appeared and vanished within a snap of two fingers or the blink of an eye. The appearance and vanishing are so swift that two or three units of consciousness seem to be able to arise and perceive two or three objects at the same time. The reality is that, two or three units of consciousness NEVER appear at the same time. They appear one after another, and only after taking one object do they take another object.
Consciousness appears one at time, so it is said, "Mind wanders solitary." (In reality, consciousness in the mind appears one at a time). “Wander" here does not mean physical 'going about', but that mind can take in an object that is at a distant location. Mind has no Material Form The mind has no form or shape. So, we cannot say that it is white or black or fat or thin. It has only the perceptibility, the capability of cognising an object. Dwelling in the Cave Consciousness of seeing originates in the eye; consciousness of hearing originates in the ear; consciousness of smelling originates in the nose; consciousness of taste originates in the tongue, consciousness of touch originates in the body. Though some forms of consciousness originate thus in the eye, ear, nose, etc., most forms of consciousness originate in the mind. Therefore, mind is said, figuratively to be "dwelling in a cave." Thus, it is clear that consciousness: • arises in the mind, and the mind itself has no form; • can note a sense object; • has the nature of cognising an object. While in the process of cognition, consciousness does not go out from the mind, but it can perceive objects far way. Two or three units of consciousness do not appear simultaneously. Each unit appears only one after another in succession.
MINDS ARE DIFFERENT AS ARE MATERIAL PROPERTIES Just as the form or shape of a man is different from that of another, so the mind of one person is also unlike that of another. Just as a heavy, clumsy body is quite different from an animated, sprightly one, so an obtuse, stolid mind is quite different form a vivacious, sparkling one. There are different kinds of good and sharp minds; there are minds of varying grades from the ordinary to the unique; there are different kinds of bad or evil states of mind; there are varying degrees of wickedness and abject stupidity. Just as there are differing degrees of gracefulness in physique with those who are pleasant in looks, so there are different classes of unsightliness. Similarly, there are different grades of wholesome group of minds ranging from the ordinary to the most noble spirits with the sharpest of intellects, and different levels of unwholesome category of mind stretching from the wicked, evil, repulsive types to the most heinous types with abject stupidity. MIND CAN BE TAMED Just as a person training himself physically and mentally will develop positive changes to those states; it is also possible to tame the mind. If one monitors one's mind regularly and tames one's unruly mind, one will develop a noble mind. # This is the objective of Vipassana meditation; a noble mind is a mind that leads eventually to Nibbana.
MENTAL FACTORS OR CONCOMITANTS (cetasikas) DETERMINE THE MIND As the only function of the mind is to know the objects, it cannot by itself be good or evil. Since consciousness within it arises together with different mental factors, mind becomes good or evil depending on the associated mental factors being good or evil. Thus, even though water is in itself colourless, it will take on the colour of the dye added to it. In like manner, consciousness within the mind is formed.
PART ONE: THE FIVE AGGREGATES  THE MATERIAL BODY (FORM)
Form - conditional coming together of aggregates eople in general believe that each and everyone of them have within their bodily frames the pristine, everlasting “soul” or a powerful “self” or an enduring “ego”, that empowers their daily conduct, thought, speech and deeds. Very few are free from this erroneous view. In fact, throughout their existence they will be reminded that this is so, and they will gladly be a pawn in the race to develop and follow a culture where this cult of the self is encouraged and even necessary if they were to seek material superiority and gains. In contrast, those who are practising Vipassana meditation and are progressively developing keen insight into the physical and mental processes, realise that there are neither empowering selves, souls nor living entities within their bodily frames, hearts or minds. These practitioners are free from the erroneous concept of “souls”, “empowering selves”, etc. within their body frames.
In order to remove this misconception of self and make it clear that there is no soul or living entity in the physical and mental constituents, either of one's own body or in the bodies of others, the Blessed One taught mindfulness contemplation on the arising and disappearing of physical and mental phenomena. MISTAKING BODY FOR SELF People invariably perceive the material body as a powerful independent Self that empowers thoughts, speech and deeds. If this is not so, what then is this material form which we wrongly perceive as self? The following material qualities form the foundation of a material form: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. the sensitive part of the eye which enables us to see; the sensitive part of the ear which enables us to hear; the sensitive part of the nose which enables us to smell; the sensitive part of the tongue which enables us to taste; the sensitive part of the body which enables us to feel; the ‘mind base’, that is, the seat of consciousness;
Mindful and diligent contemplation reveal that eye consciousness arises because of the sensory organ of the eye; and with eye consciousness comes the concept of a living entity or self. Similarly, because of the sensory organs of the ear, nose, tongue, and body we have the consciousness of hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. The mind base, the seat of consciousness, is responsible for thoughts and thinking, resulting in the notion of a “self” or a living entity.
In the absence of the sensory organs, the concept of souls or living entities do not arise. Consider, for instance, a wooden figure of a man, which resembles a living person in appearance but has none of the sense organs that give rise to cognition. It could never be mistaken for a living being with a soul or a living entity. Likewise, we do not conceive notions of a soul or a living entity with respect to a corpse, as there are no functional sensory organs within it. So long as sensitive qualities exist, so long will other material bodies which are their adjuncts and concomitants be wrongly conceived as empowering selves. In the conventional perception, the body which is compounded of the material qualities is viewed as a “self”, pristinely endowed with immortality and great power that manages and dictates the thoughts, speech and deeds of the material being. This was the view in all teachings before the Blessed One taught differently. The Blessed One then taught that, in the ultimate reality, these material substances are merely aggregates, mere physical phenomena that arise and disappear and are neither empowering nor possessing of immortality. WHY A MATERIAL BODY IS NOT A “SELF” The Blessed One taught that if the material body was a “self” that was all enduring, independently all powerful, the core of our being, as was believed to be, one could then manage the body as one desires; to be youthful and vigorous, free from decay and diseases and not to suffer, and one should be able to dictate its well being or otherwise.
But the body, depending on conditions of temperature, nutriment and various other factors, is subject to decay and all sorts of distressful diseases, thus, it does not have an inherent powerful self or soul within it, as was perceived to have. The Material Body is a Base of Pain and Suffering. Diseases are a prevalent source of suffering for the body and mind; there are diseases of the various components of the physical body. Thus, originating from the body, many forms of diseases arise. We suffer from hunger and thirst because of the body, and because of it we are subjected to attacks by mosquitoes and other types of pests. Suffering in the miserable and woeful states is also due to the body. In short, one suffers from all these ailments and afflictions because of the body. In addition, the body is responsible for the phenomenon of death. When the material qualities in the body undergo deterioration and decay, death occurs. It may be said, therefore, that the physical form causes anguish and pain by decaying and dying. Thus, we can reflect that if the physical form were an empowering, enduring self, it would not inflict on itself the sufferings of old age, disease and death. One might cause suffering to others but surely not to oneself. If the body were a controlling self, it should not inflict suffering on itself by bringing about old age, disease and death. Furthermore, even before the onset of old age, disease and death, the body is constantly subjecting us to many forms of distress.
Even those, who are relatively free from illness and enjoy good health, cannot remain long in any one of the body postures, such as sitting, standing or walking. They have to change postures very often. We have all experienced how difficult it is to remain in any one body posture even for a few minutes. We find it painful to remain seated for half an hour or one hour without changing posture, or to lie down for two or three hours without moving. We are being subjected to constantly changing bodily postures because of the feelings of heat or pain that arise in the limbs after a certain period in one position. All This Suffering Arises Because of the Physical Form; In Other Words, It Is The Body That Is Inflicting Suffering. Thus, we may reflect further that if the body were a self regulating, empowering entity, it would not impose these sufferings on itself, and it should be possible for the body to direct itself; 'let this body be healthy and disease free'. It would then be possible for the body to take control. But that, as we all know, is not the case. ATTACHMENT TO THE “SELF” CONCEPT More so at present times than ever before, people, especially those who are powerful and bestowed with material wealth, hold on to the belief that there is an individual soul, a living entity which lasts for the duration of the life span and even beyond. Others, however, believe that the individual soul remains undestroyed after death, taking on life in new bodies, never perishing.
Some have the concept that the body of a being is made up of two parts; the gross body and the subtle body. At the end of each existence, when death ensues, the gross body is destroyed but the subtle body departs from it to enter into a new body. Thus, the subtle body remains eternal and never perishes. There are also many who believe in the existence of a soul or a living entity. They believe that at the moment of death, life departs via the nose or mouth. When conception takes place in the womb, life enters through the mother's nose, her mouth or her abdomen. And from birth to death, the life principle remains steadfastly in the new body. All these views relate to a belief in the existence of a soul, a living entity. In Reality, The Blessed One Taught That Death is The Cessation of The Psycho-Physical Process, The Non-Arising of New Mentality and Corporeality (The Five Aggregates) After Their Disintegration at "Death”. The arising of new consciousness in a new existence as conditioned by the kamma of past existences is conventionally called migration from an old existence to a new one, but in reality, there is no soul or living entity which transmigrates from one existence to another. Clinging to belief in an eternal self is assuming that sentient beings have an intrinsic, empowering self. When one assumes the “self”, to be a living soul, or others to be living entities, then one is contributing to the belief in an enduring, regulating, all powerful self.
It is only when belief in the existence of a an empowering self is discarded, and one's own and other's bodies are perceived as merely psycho-physical phenomena, that knowledge of nonself arises, and it is essential to develop this true knowledge. There are different kinds of self clinging arising out of belief in an empowering self. So long as we cling to the belief that there is a permanent living entity or a soul, so long do we hold the view that the body has the power to control and dictate.
PRACTICAL INSTRUCTIONS IN THE CONTEMPLATION OF NON-SELF IN RELATION TO THE BODY The practice of Vipassana meditation allows us to recognise and realise in its reality, the non-self and uncontrollable nature of the body. Vipassana meditation consists of contemplating the characteristics of consciousness manifesting at the moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking. For new meditators, however, it is hard to take note of each and every instance of sensory activity. They must start their practice with only a few of the most prominent objects of sensation. Thus, while sitting, the meditator may concentrate on the nature of stiffness and resistance felt in the body and note it as "sitting, sitting". He can further combine with the noting of touching at any point where the sense of touching is noted; "sitting, touching", "sitting, touching". However, the rising and falling of the abdomen is the primary object of meditation. Thus, one should heedfully note; "rising" as the abdomen rises, and "falling" as it falls. With practise, one will begin to distinctly observe the phenomena of stiffening, resisting, distending, relaxing, and moving which take place in the abdomen. Thus, the nature of physical and mental phenomena should be comprehended by observing their characteristics.
However, this exercise of noting the rising and falling alone is not all that has to be done in Vipassana meditation. While noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, any thoughts that may occur must also be noted. When feeling stiff, hot, cold or painful, the meditator has to note these sensations as they arise. When he bends or stretches his arms or legs, these movements should also be noted. As he rises from the sitting position, the change of posture should be accompanied by heedful noting. While walking, every motion involved in each step has to be noted as "rising, stepping forward, dropping". When concentration strengthens, it will be possible to observe and note more physical activities, even the opening and shutting of the eyelids will be possible to be observed and noted. When there is nothing particular to note, the meditator's attention should revert to the rising and falling movements of the abdomen. While thus occupied in the noting of rising, falling, sitting and touching as they occur, the desire may arise in the meditator to change postures in order to relieve the pain and sensations of heat which are developing in his arms and legs. The meditator should take note of these desires as they arise but should remain still, not immediately yielding to the temptation to stretch the limbs. He should put up with the discomfort as long as he can.
If the desire to stretch arises once again, he should take note of it as before without changing posture. Only when the pain becomes unbearable should he slowly stretch out his arms and legs, at the same time noting these actions carefully as "stretching, stretching". During each session of meditation, frequent changes of posture become necessary due to the discomfort of aches and pains. With this repeated adjusting of posture, the oppressive nature of the physical body becomes apparent. Despite the meditator's inclination to remain still, quietly seated, without changing position for one or two hours, it becomes evident that he cannot do so. Then realisation comes that the body with its constant stresses is not “an empowering self”, “a soul” or “a living entity”, but mere physical phenomena occurring in accordance with conditions. This realisation is knowledge of non-self. One cannot remain very long either seated, lying down or standing. Thus realisation comes too that the body never satisfy our true wants and needs but is in fact unmanageable. Thus, being uncontrollable and unpredictable, it is neither an empowering self nor a core entity within the material body, but a mere physical phenomenon that is arising in accordance with its own conditions. This realisation is also knowledge of non-self.
Again, being repeatedly disturbed by having to answer the calls of nature, it becomes apparent that the body is stressful, unmanageable, not amenable to one's will. With this reflection, one realises that the material body is subject to conditioning and is thus not an empowering self. While contemplating on the behavior of the physical form, its true stressful nature is exposed when bodily filth such as nasal mucus, saliva, phlegm, tears and sweat ooze out of the body. One cannot maintain cleanliness as one desires because of this nature of the body. It is, therefore, obvious that ‘I’ do not decide or manage bodily functions and is thus not a controlling or empowering self. In addition, the body suffers from hunger, thirst, old age and diseases. These conditions are obvious truths, but to a casual observer, there is a likelihood of the notion arising that such conditions are the doings of an empowering self within. It is only through heedful noting that the body is exposed as mere physical phenomena arising subject to conditions, thus, not an empowering self or a living entity.
Thus, in the course of heedfully noting all body actions and perceiving how it afflicts; how it is unmanageable and ungovernable, the realisation arises through personal experience: "Although the physical form of this body together with its feelings and sensations appear to be an all powerful, controlling self, but because it is the source of pain and suffering, it is really neither my ‘self’ nor my ‘inner core’.” “As it is not amenable to my will, it is unmanageable, thus, it is not an empowering entity within me. I have been mistaken all along in taking it to be ‘my self’.” This is true knowledge through the contemplation of non-self. MATERIAL FORM SIMILAR TO FOAM Material form is similar to foam awashed along coastlines, by the side of ponds and beaches of waterways. They are just air bubbles entrapped in droplets of water. These bubbles cling together to form foamy scum the size of a man’s fist, a human head, the size of a man or even of a bigger proportion. Casually seen, a big mass of foam may appear to be of substance, but on closer scrutiny, it turns out to be insubstantial, constantly breaking up and of no use for any purpose.
Likewise, the human body, complete with head, trunk, hands and feet, in male or female form, appears to be a substantial mass. It seems permanent, it looks beautiful, seemingly a living entity. But when subjected to bare analysis, the body turns out to be just like a mass of foam; insubstantial, a mere conglomeration of thirtytwo unclean parts such as head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, muscles, and bones. On further detailed analysis, it is found to be a conglomeration of minute subatomic particles, invisible to the naked eye. It may be likened to a big pile of sand made up of minute individual sand particles. Alternatively, we may take the example of flour consisting of minute individual grains of rice or wheat powder. When soaked with water it turns into dough, a substantial mass which can be made quite big by using large amounts of flour. This substantial dough may be shaped into a figure of a man of massive size but it is not one solid mass, it is a conglomeration of fine grains of rice or wheat powder. Similarly, the body is not one solid mass but made up of small particles of matter massed together in one big heap; and similar to the mass of foam, it is devoid of inner substance. THE MATERIAL BODY There is neither a permanent core, nor a beautiful substance, nor a living entity constituting an empowering ‘self’ within the material body.
The visible material qualities form a part of the body. Remove those visible qualities and the body will become devoid of shape and form. The extended earth element forms that part of the body which makes up the mass and physicality of the body. The elements of heat or cold and motion form the other parts of the body. Remove these three elements and the human body which can be seen and felt will no longer exist. The elements of water and air forms part of the material body and without these parts, there is no human body. The human body sees because it has the sensory organ of eye; it hears because of the sensory organ of ear; it cognises smells because of the sensory organ of nose; it tastes because of the sensory organ of tongue; and it receives the sensation of touch because of the sensory organ of the skin. All these different aggregates are conditioned to be one to assume the form and shape of a human body, and enable the human body to function. Without them, the human body would not be able to function as a human being and cannot exist as such. These sensitive material qualities, such as eye and visual objects, do not exist permanently, they are always arising and disappearing, the new replacing the old. Thus, this body is like a mass of foam, a conglomeration of insubstantial material qualities; remove the different parts and the human material form is non-existence. Thus, the human form is not what we have conceived it to be.
During Vipassana meditation, one should contemplate on the phenomenon arising, without judging and analysing its appearance. During walking, the material qualities of extension and motion are most prominent. The Blessed One had taught to note the reality of the moment; thus, know that you are standing when you are standing; which is to say, note the reality of the moment. When walking thus, note; “walking, walking”, when going someplace; note; “going, going”; that is to say be aware of the moment as it arises. When seeing body and material parts, it should be noted as "seeing, seeing", when conscious of odours; "smelling, smelling", when limbs are moved and stretched, "stretching, stretching", "moving", "changing". Carefully noting in this way, the concentration gets stronger and the meditator realises that an act of going consists of a mental desire to go, followed by physical motion. Acts of standing and sitting are made up of desire to stand or sit followed by a series of motions; likewise with bending, stretching and changing postures.
In an act of seeing, there is eye consciousness and visual object; in smelling, nose consciousness and object of the odour. Each phenomenon is seen to arise for the moment, only to disappear. The limbs, hands and feet, the head and the shape of the body are no longer felt and recognised as such. They appear merely as recurrent physical processes, incessantly arising and disappearing. At that stage, the meditator comes to the realisation through reflections and contemplations how the body is like a mass of foam. On one occasion, a certain bhikkhu, after taking a subject of meditation from the Blessed One, went to the forest. Although he tried hard he made little progress in his meditation; so he decided to go back to the Blessed One for further instruction. On his way back he saw a mirage, which, after all, was only an illusive appearance of a sheet of water. At that instant, he came to realise that the body also was insubstantial like a mirage. Thus keeping his mind on the insubstantiality of the body he came to the bank of the river Aciravati. While sitting under a tree close to the river, seeing big froth breaking up, he realised the impermanent nature of the body. Thus, he realised that the body is impermanent like froth and insubstantial like a mirage. The Blessed One said: One who knows that this body is impermanent like froth, and comprehends that it is insubstantial like a mirage, will cut the rounds of rebirth and pass out of sight of the King of Death.
THE ELEVEN-FOLD CONTEMPLATION ON FORM [Past, Present and Future; Internal and External; Coarse and Fine; Inferior and Superior; Far and Near Forms]. The meditator, practising diligently knows the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not ‘self’ in the rising and disappearing of phenomena as they appear. The meditator who knows thus, can deduce from personal experience that Forms of the Past have not reached the Present and that presently occurring Forms will not reach the Future; they perish at the moment of coming into existence and are therefore impermanent. Thus, being in a state of impermanence and not in control is not indicative of an entity or an empowering ‘self’. The meditator continues to contemplate as follows: CONTEMPLATING PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE FORMS Material Forms arising in the Past, at the moment of their last rising did not reach the stage of falling away, and at the moment of falling away they did not reach the stage of rising, they disappeared at the moment of their rising and falling away. They are therefore, impermanent and unmanageable and due to their impermanent and unmanageable natures, Material Forms do not possess empowering ‘selves’, as believed. The last Material Form at the time of last seeing and hearing did not reach the Present moment of seeing and hearing; it is therefore impermanent, distressful, not an empowering ‘self’. Material Form rising in the Present moment does not reach the stage of Passing away; the Presently Passing away Material Form does not reach the stage of rising.
They disappear even while rising and passing away and are therefore impermanent, distressful, not an independent empowering ‘self’. The Material Forms at the Present moment of seeing and hearing do not reach the next moment of seeing and hearing. They pass away even while seeing and hearing. They are, therefore, impermanent, distressing, and are not possessed of any empowering ‘selves’. Reflecting on behaviour of Material Forms in the Past and the Present; thus, Future Material Forms at the moment of their rising and passing away will not reach the next Future moments of rising and passing away. They will Pass away at the respective moments of coming into being; being impermanent and a source of distress, they do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. CONTEMPLATING INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL MATERIAL FORM People imagine that when they spit, defecate or excrete, the Material Form from inside the body gets expelled or thrown outside the body. When food is eaten or air is breathed in, the External Material Forms are believed to have come into the body. Reality is that Material Forms undergo dissolution at the moment and place of their coming into being, and new Material Forms rise afresh at the new place. The meditator who is taking note perceives such Dissolution and Cessation taking place at each place of origination.
It should be observed that when mindfulness and concentration are well developed, the out-breath is seen to break into small sections in the chest, throat and nose before it finally makes the exit from the body. The in-breath is also seen to be entering, pushing in, in a series of small sections. A similar phenomenon is seen while drinking water, as it pushes its way down the throat. Therefore, Internal Material Forms do not get outside; External Material Forms do not get inside. They cease and pass away at the place where they come into being, and are thus impermanent, distressful, and does not constitute empowering ‘selves’. CONTEMPLATION OF COARSE AND FINE MATERIAL FORMS People in general believed that any and all tender Material Forms of childhood will develop to become the coarse, gross Material Forms of adults: That any healthy, light, fine Material Forms will change to become the unhealthy, heavy, gross Material Forms; that any unhealthy, heavy, gross Material Forms will develop to become healthy, light, fine, Material Forms. However, the meditator who is mindfully noting tactile bodies, and contemplating their characteristics, perceives these Material Forms breaking up into tiny bits even while being observed. Thus perceiving, he knows that neither gross Material Forms become fine Material Forms, nor fine Material Forms become gross Material Forms.
The gross, hot or cold Material Forms do not become fine, cold or hot Material Forms; fine, cold or hot Material Forms do not become gross, hot or cold Material Forms. Gross, stiff, extending, moving Material Forms do not become fine, stable, still Material Forms. They all pass away at the moment of arising; they are thus impermanent and being such they are void of any empowering ‘self’. CONTEMPLATING IN TERMS OF INFERIORITY OR SUPERIORITY Ordinarily, it is believed that the unhealthy, inferior Material Forms become the healthy, superior Material Forms; the youthful Material Forms become the Material Forms of an old man. But the meditator who keeps track of Material Forms at the moment of their arising perceives that any Material Form that arises ceases and falls away as it is being noted and therefore knows that the inferior Material Form has not become the superior Material Form, nor does the superior one become an inferior one. Thus, all Material Forms have the nature of being the source of stress and do not constitute ‘empowering selves’. CONTEMPLATING IN TERMS OF FAR AND NEAR To normal perception, it seems that when a man is seen coming from afar, he has arrived with the Material Form of that far distance. When a man goes from a near to a far distance, he carries away the Material Form of the near distance.
But the meditator who is always noting corporeal and mental phenomena knows when watching, for instance, the phenomenon of stretching the body, that the Material Form that stretches falls away in a series of blurring fade-outs without reaching any distance; when bending, the Material Form that bends, fades away in a series of blurring fade-outs without reaching any distance. Perceiving thus, the meditator is convinced that the Material Form which is near has not gone afar; the distant Material Form has not come near. They fade away at the respective moments of becoming and are impermanent, distressful and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. While looking at a man approaching from a distance, and noting, "seeing, seeing," we see him disappearing section by section, part by part in a series of quick blurring fade-outs. While looking at someone leaving from nearby and noting "seeing, seeing," the man disappears section by section, part by part in a series of quick, blurring fade-outs. Thus, the Material Form from a distance has not come near; the Material Form which is near has not gone to a distance. The old Material Form keeps on disappearing and the new Material Form keeps on arising, giving the appearance of someone coming from afar and someone going away. Only the meditator who has reached an advanced stage of Vipassana insight and whose discernment is sharp can perceive the phenomena as they really are in this manner. Those not advanced in insight may not perceive so clearly.
Again, while walking to and fro and noting raising, stepping and dropping, raising appears separately as one stage, stepping separately as one stage and dropping separately as another. When insight is well developed, the movements of body and limbs are seen as series of blurring fade outs. Perceiving thus, the conclusion is reached that Material Forms do not reach from one place to another; they cease and disappear at the place they come into being. This is knowing that absolute realities do not move over to another place; they cease and fade away at the places they come into existence. Therefore, Material Forms from afar do not come near; Material Forms which are near do not go afar. They cease and fade away at the place where they come into existence. They are, therefore, impermanent, source of stress and thus cannot be considered as empowering ‘selves’. CONTEMPLATION ON IMPERMANENCE OF FORM Vipassana meditators are mainly concerned with contemplating happenings in the body. Phenomena happening elsewhere need be known only conjecturally. Thus, the meditator needs only to observe and note the corporeal and mental phenomena happening within his body and see their true nature with his insight knowledge. Even in connection with the phenomena happening inside one’s ‘self’, one can only realise things in the future by inference, because they have not yet occurred. What has occurred before cannot be known as it really is, other than through conjecture.
Even with those phenomena that occur during one's life time, it is not easy to see what really happened some years ago, some months past or even some days previously. It is hard even to know the absolute truth of what happened a few hours ago because, for ordinary people, once an object is seen, heard or touched, it is immediately attached to in terms of conventional concepts as ‘I’, ‘he’, ‘a woman’ or ‘a man’. Only The Present should be Contemplated On in Vipassana, that is, as Phenomena arises and are experienced; Present Phenomenon Occurring while walking, standing, sitting and lying, should be noted initially. Only Those Mental and Physical Phenomena which Manifest at The Six Sense Doors at the time an object is seen, heard, tasted, smelt, touched or thought should be noted. In this way, as the concentration is developed, the meditator comes to differentiate between: The Rising and the Noting of it; The Disappearing and the Noting of it. The extension, pressure and motion of the moment of rising do not last till the moment of disappearing; they disappear at the moments of their respective occurrence. The distension and motion at the moment of disappearing do not last till the next moment of rising; they disappear and cease then and there.
While walking too, the extension and motion involved in the ‘right step’ do not stay on till the ‘left step’. Similarly the material properties of the ‘left step’ are not retained till the ‘right step’. They fade away at the moment of their appearance. The material properties of the ‘raising’ moment do not last till the moment of ‘stepping out’; those of the ‘stepping’ moment do not stay on till the moment of ‘dropping down’; they all fade away at their respective moments of arising. Similarly in bending and stretching, each phenomenon disappears at its respective moment of appearance. When the concentration gets particularly strong, the meditator will observe, during the period of one act of bending or stretching, the process of dissolution in very quick serial succession happening in the same place without change of position. The meditator realises that the nature of these phenomena was not known before because they were not heedfully noted. Now that he is noting them heedfully, he perceives that: The aggregates do not pass on from one moment to another, they constantly perish at the very moment of their appearance. Thus the material properties which had occurred before do not last till the present moment; they have all perished.
The material properties which are manifesting now in rising, disappearing, bending, stretching, stepping, dropping, moving will not reach a future moment, they will fade away in the present. The material properties of coming phenomena will also cease at their respective moments of arising. Therefore, all kinds of material properties are impermanent, incessantly arising and disappearing at the moment of their happening. The meditator realises that they are a source of suffering; they are not empowering ‘selves’, mere phenomena and because they are not amenable to one's control, they arise and disappear in accordance with their own conditions. The meditator arrives at this realisation through his experiential observations and insight wisdom, not through hearsay or from book knowledge. Meditation enables us to know the true nature of things as impermanent, suffering and that there is nothing that constitutes empowering ‘selves’. To know the real nature of compounded aggregates is to know that, "surely, this is not mine". Conceit arises because of the concept that “I” and all things are perceived as permanent. When the truth of their impermanent nature is known, there is nothing to take pride in. Seeing this is not ‘my self’' is seeing ‘non-self’. Failing to take note of Corporeal and Mental Phenomena as they arise at the Six Sense Doors and believing them to be permanent leads to the conceit: This I am.
But when phenomena are perceived to last less than the blink of an eye, when everything is seen as impermanent, conceit cannot arise. As long as things are conceived to be an empowering ‘self’, there is no letting go of a ‘self’; Only when things are seen to be ‘Non-self’, no ‘self’ clinging is possible. Those who do not observe sensory phenomena at the moment of their arising, believe that the material properties at the moment of seeing linger on, to become material properties at the moment of hearing, or vice versa, continuing from one moment to the next. They believe also that it is the same "I" who sees as that which hears and touches. They believe too that the material properties of the past have arrived at the present, and the present ones will continue on to the future, which is clinging to the belief in their permanence. But the meditator who is heedfully noting these phenomena knows: The material properties at the moment of seeing disappear then and there, they do not reach the moment of hearing: The material properties at the moment of hearing disappear then and there, they do not reach the moment of seeing. Every act of seeing, hearing, touching and knowing is a new arising. This is knowing the truth of impermanence as it really is.
Knowing this, the meditator realises that the material properties of the past have ceased in the past, they have not come forward to the present: The present material properties are always disappearing even as they are being noted, and will not reach the future. He knows also that material properties of the future will also disappear at the moment of arising. He realises that any material property does not endure even for the flick of an eyelid. Realising thus, there is no opportunity for the arising of clinging through craving "this is mine"; clinging through conceit, "this I am" or clinging through wrong view as "this is my empowering self”.
eelings are of three kinds:
1. 2. 3.
Unpleasant feeling. Neutral feeling (neither pleasant nor painful). Pleasant feeling.
Obviously, neutral feeling is not as much noticed as are pleasurable and unpleasant feelings. It is pleasurable to feel the touch of a cool breeze or cold water when the weather is hot; it feels so cosy to be wrapped up in warm clothing when one is cold; one feels so comfortable after stretching the limbs or changing positions to relieve stiffness. All these comfortable feelings, through contact with pleasant objects, are pleasurable feelings, which sentient beings conceive to be belonging to “Me”, to a “Self”; "I feel pleasant, I feel comfortable" and go in pursuit of continuous pleasant feelings.
Unpleasant feelings that arise on coming into contact with unpleasant objects, such as heat, tiredness in the limbs, discomfort due to intense cold, and itchiness, are classified as unpleasant sensations. These are also assumed to be belonging to “Me”, to “an enduring Self”; "I feel painful, I feel hot, I feel itchy, I feel unpleasant". Therefore, sentient beings try hard to avoid contact with these unpleasant objects so as to maintain feelings of comfort and pleasure. States of mind are conditioned by these three types of feelings. Thus, dwelling on ordinary everyday affairs gives rise to neutral feelings; thoughts on pleasant objects give rise to pleasant feelings; thinking about things which cause dejection, despondency, despair, sadness, grief, fear and so on, gives rise to unpleasant feelings. These are the three kinds of feelings that are related to discursive thoughts. Sentient beings identify such feelings as originating from a “ME”, a “SELF”, or a “SOUL”. These are feelings that arise at the sense doors, and such feelings should be contemplated on at the moment of their arising so as to comprehend their true nature. MISTAKING FEELING AS AN EMPOWERING “SELF” Whenever objects are seen, heard, touched or known, they give rise to pleasant or unpleasant feelings or in most cases a non pleasant or unpleasant ones, as no emotions either way is felt. When such sensations arise, there also arises identification of those sensations as belonging to a “Self”, an “Entity” that is able to manage and control such sensations: "I feel pleasant". "I don't feel pleasant", or "previously I felt pleasant, but now I don’t feel pleasant", or "I feel neither pleasant nor unpleasant. I feel indifferent".
Thus, there is the clinging to the belief that, on happy occasions, it is “I” who enjoy pleasant things, and when faced with difficult circumstances, it is “I” who suffers. Sentient beings are able to distinguish between rejoicing and suffering according to pleasant or unpleasant circumstances, whereas, inanimate objects, are not able to do so. Such clinging has conditioned sentient beings to assume that they are endowed with an animating spirit, a living entity, a soul and it is this spirit, living entity or soul which enjoys on moments of pleasure or suffers on occasions of distress. In reality, feeling is neither an enduring “Self”, a “Soul” nor a living Entity, but merely a phenomenon that arises and falls away as conditioned by circumstances. If feelings were true controlling and empowering “selves”, they would be able to self manage as desired, and they would not be sources of suffering to “themselves”. It would also be possible for feelings to condition themselves to remain stress free and pleasant, in which case feelings would be regarded as controlling and empowering Selves, Souls or living Entities. However, meditators realised that feelings are sources of stress and that they arise not in accordance with desires, but with their own conditioning circumstances. Although it is evident that feelings are stressful and ungovernable, there are people with strong attachment to the belief that feelings are empowering Selves, Souls or Living Entities who, trusting in pleasurable sensations, cling to feelings as all empowering and take delight in it. Careful consideration, however, will reveal that moments of joy and happiness are few compared to occasions of suffering and distress.
HOW FEELING CAUSES STRESS Often, there has to be constant accommodation and adjustment to maintain ourselves comfortably. We suffer the discomfort of stiffness, cramp, heat and pain when we are confined to one position for long, unless we make the necessary adjustments in our bodily postures to relieve the pain. The stressful nature of feeling is evident even in the eyes, which needs constant care by blinking. Without these adjustments, tiredness in the eyes becomes stressful. Other organs of the body need similar accommodation. Even with constant adjustment feeling is likely to cause severe suffering and may lead to serious disease or even death. There have been many cases of sick people, unable to bear their pain and suffering any longer, seeking relief through suicide. Physical pains and suffering are not caused entirely by feeling; the physical form also contributes its share, being the originating source of distress. Mental stress and suffering, on the other hand, are mental conditions caused solely by feelings. When people we care dies, our feelings are not pleasant. Loss of wealth and property may produce intense mental suffering, and that may in turn result in dangerous repercussions. Frustration and discontent owing to failure to solve life's problems are other forms of suffering caused by feeling. Pleasant feelings, which are very comforting while they last, may eventually prove to be a source of distress. When they disappear after their brief arising, one is left with lingering memories and yearnings.
One has to be constantly trying to maintain pleasant, happy states. Thus, people go in pursuit of pleasant states even at the risk of their lives. If they happen to use illegal and immoral means in their pursuits, they will reap the unwholesome results of their unwholesome deeds. Thus, it is that apparently pleasant sensations that also cause pain and distress. Equanimous feelings, like pleasant feelings, produce comfort and happiness. Like pleasant feelings, they require constant effort to maintain, which of course entails effort and stress. Both pleasant and neutral feelings are short-lived. Being of a fleeting nature, these feelings require constant maintenance, and this involves continuous striving, which is a state of stress. People are conditioned by their feelings, they believe erroneously, that their feelings are manageable and under their control. They do not realise that their feelings are in fact a source of suffering for them. If there were no feelings there would be no experience of pain or pleasure, either physically or mentally; there would be freedom from suffering. As all forms of feelings are conditional, it is plain that feelings are neither empowering selves, souls nor inner entities. HOW FEELING IS NOT MANAGEABLE Feeling is unmanageable and not subjected to one's will. Much as we like to believe that all sensations are subjected to our whims and fancies, we cannot direct that they stay with us. We take pleasure in them for a while and then they fade away, without our say so. This indicates that we are not able to manage or maintain a state in which pleasant and desirable things will remain permanently as we wish.
When pleasant sense objects fade away, they are replaced by undesirable objects which, of course, cause unhappiness and suffering. That which is unmanageable cannot be regarded as an independent entity or an empowering self. Feeling being unmanageable is thus not an empowering self, and it is not proper to cling to it as a self or enduring entity. Thus, as feelings tend to distress and cause suffering in every existence, they cannot be regarded as empowering selves or the inner cores of existence. Unpleasant feelings cannot be prevented from arising, they arise of their own accord. Even though we do not wish for mental distress, they make their appearances all the same. This goes to demonstrate the uncontrollable nature of feelings. Living beings have to contend with feelings which they cannot control, and hence, feelings cannot be conceived as empowering selves or unique inner cores. Feelings which are felt in one's own body tend to be stressful and cannot be disciplined as to one’s wish. Hence it is very clear that feelings can neither be taken as empowering selves, nor unique inner cores. Nevertheless, ordinary worldlings cling to the belief: It is “I” who suffer after experiencing happiness; it is “I” who enjoy after ending stress. It is not easy to completely eradicate clinging to belief in an empowering self. The ingrained belief in feeling as an empowering self is abandoned only through personal realisation of its true nature, which can only be brought about by contemplation in accordance with the practice of Vipassana meditation and contemplation.
FEELING LIKENED TO A BUBBLE
Feeling is like an air bubble. When rain drops fall on the water surface, little pockets of air become trapped in the surrounding wall of water, forming minute bubbles. Like rain drops, feelings too, fall and drain away instantly. Children at play produce similar bubbles by blowing on soapy suds. The collection of these minute bubbles forms a mass of foam. Just as foam is empty of inner core, so is feeling empty of inner core. Feeling, the experience of sensations, is likened to bubbles because of its nature of incessant arising and disappearing. This is in conformity with what meditators experience, however others do not hold similar view; they hold the view that all objects, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral stay on and continue to remain in a permanent state of being. The ordinary person's view, on looking long at a beautiful object, is that the pleasant sight remains. When an unpleasant sight has been seen for some time, they also see it as long lasting. Neutral objects, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, are also thought to last long, to remain permanently.
They believe that all phenomena arising from the six sense doors are enduring, that they remain for long periods and are dependable and permanent. Thus, non practitioners’ view of feeling is not quite what it really is; they do not view feeling as psycho-physical process arising and just as quickly disappearing, impermanent and undependable. To personally realise this truth, one must constantly observe the psycho-physical process rising and falling within the body. While ardently observing the psycho-physical process, the meditator notes that whatever feelings that arise, either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral has their origin at the six sense doors. All such feelings arise and disappear in due course. They come and go in their billions in the snap of two fingers. Observing and noting these phenomena, and realising the reality of their rising and disappearing, the meditator's perception will develop to deeper stages of Vipassana insights. The passing away of painful feeling is especially vivid. When the arising pain is observed as "pain, pain", it is seen to disappear with each noting. At this stage of insight, painful feelings are more vivid and frequently noticed. At each noting, the pain from each place of observation disappears, now from one place, then arising and disappearing from another, as if instantly erased. Thus, for the meditator whose concentration is well developed, a pleasant sight is no more as soon as it is noted. But since there is eye and visual object, the sight is seen again. Every time it is seen, it is noted and just as quick, it falls away.
The same process takes place with unpleasant objects and neither pleasant nor unpleasant objects. Disappearance of pleasant, unpleasant and neither pleasant nor unpleasant sensations of sound with each noting is more distinct. Sensations of smell also disappear when noted. Some are more vivid than others; taste sensations are especially vivid. Delicious taste keeps on disappearing and arising with each act of noting. Pleasant, unpleasant and neither pleasant nor unpleasant sensations of touch, too, arise and disappear when noted in this way. Similarly, feelings of unhappiness, sorrow, sadness, happiness and gladness, when subject to heedful noting, will be seen to fall away quickly. Thus, feelings are just like bubbles, ephemeral and untrustworthy; impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. CONTEMPLATION OF FEELINGS A meditator noting rising, falling, sitting and so on, will come to notice in time, uncomfortable sensations such as pain, stiffness and heat. He must acknowledge these different feelings as they arise by noting, ‘pain, pain’, ‘stiffness, stiffness’, ‘heat, heat’, whatever the case may be. He must not skip over or neglect noting such psycho-physical phenomena. During the initial period when concentration is not yet developed, these distressing sensations may increase in intensity; the meditator must bear with the pain and discomfort as long as possible and keep on noting the sensations as they arise.
As his concentration gets developed and insights mature, the discomforting sensations will gradually lose their intensity and disappear. However, prior to the advent of a developed and mature concentration, the meditator realises that painful sensations in one place tend to disappear only to arise in another form at another site. When this new sensation is heedfully noted, it disappears to be replaced in turn by another form of sensation in yet another place. When other distressing feelings are observed repeatedly, appearing and disappearing in this manner for a considerable time, realisation comes to the meditator that ‘unpleasant feeling arises of its own, is stressful and cannot be prevented from arising; it is uncontrollable’. On further reflection, he realises that; the “I” cannot control or dictate the rising and falling of the sensations; thus, he comes to realise that there is no empowering self, living entity or soul within. The meditator who has observed the rising and disappearing of unpleasant feeling in the course of contemplation recalls the stressful nature of feeling while it lasted; he knows that feeling has disappeared not because of his wishing for it, nor in obedience to his commands, but as a result of arising conditions. Feeling is truly ungovernable. Thus, the meditator realises that feeling, whether pleasant or painful, is a natural process, conditional arising as and when. It does not constitute an empowering self or inner core.
Furthermore, the incessant arising and disappearing of feeling as it is being noted also establishes the fact that feeling has the nature of non-enduring, they never last. This is the true knowledge of non-self. Further, when the meditator reaches the stage of knowledge of the arising and disappearing of compounded things, he notices that his meditation practice of noting phenomena is proceeding with ease and comfort unaccompanied by pain or suffering. This is manifestation of an especially pleasant feeling, which cannot be maintained for long, however much the meditator wishes it. When his concentration wanes and becomes weakened, that pleasant feeling falls away and may not arise again in spite of his yearning for it. Then it dawns upon him that feeling is not subjected to one's will and is ungovernable, and so it is not an empowering self or inner core. The meditator then realises through personal experience the non-self and non-enduring nature of feeling. He also sees vividly the non-substantial and non-self nature of feeling because of its dissolution on each occasion of noting. In the initial stages of meditation, the meditator suffers from physical pain of stiffness, itching or heat. Occasionally, he suffers the mental distress of disappointment, dejection, fear or repugnance. He should keep on noting these unpleasant feelings. He will come to know that while unpleasant feelings are manifesting, pleasant sensations do not arise.
On some occasions, however, the meditator experiences very pleasant sensations in the course of meditation, both physical and mental. When he thinks of happy incidents, for instance, happy feelings are evoked. He should keep on noting the pleasant feelings as they arise. He will come to know then that while pleasant feelings are manifesting, unpleasant sensations do not arise. On the whole, however, the meditator is mostly engaged in noting the origination and dissolution of ordinary corporeal and mental processes, such as the rise and fall of the abdomen, which excite neither painful nor pleasant sensations. When the sensation is not vividly pleasant or painful, attention should be directed on the body or on whichever mental state is prominent. While thus heedfully observing feelings, the pleasant or painful feelings will be perceived clearly, arising recurrently and disappearing in the next moment, like falling raindrops. Just like external raindrops, the inner "raindrops" appear as if they have fallen on the body from an external source. When these incessantly arising and disappearing phenomena are clearly seen, realisation comes to the meditator that these feelings are impermanent, insubstantial and imperfect; they do not constitute empowering selves. As a consequence of such realisation, there develops the sense of weariness and dispassion towards feelings.
ELEVEN-FOLD CONTEMPLATION ON FEELING All feelings, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or superior, far or near, should be seen with one's own knowledge, as they truly are, thus: 'this is not mine, this I am not, this is not my ‘self’.’ We should also contemplate feelings pertaining to the eleven factors enumerated above, so as to realise their impermanent, distressful and ‘non-self’ characteristics. Here, past feelings means the sensations experienced in previous existences as well as those experienced days, months or years ago in this very life. There are also those experienced in the earlier part of today. Of these, it is obvious that the feelings of past existences have all ceased to exist. But to those with strong attachment to an empowering ‘self’, this will not be so obvious: they hold to the view that the ‘self’ that experienced the sensations of previous existences continues to experience them now. In their view, all the sensations of earlier times in the present existence have not perished and ceased. They believe that the ‘self’ that had enjoyed sensations before is still enjoying them now. FEELING OF THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE If unpleasant feelings such as stiffness, heat, or pain appear while contemplating the rising and falling of the abdomen, the meditator takes note of them. When thus noted, the unbearable feelings get less and less painful and then disappears.
When the concentration is well developed, it will be seen that each pain passes away with each noting. Observing this, the meditator realises personally that feelings are not lasting; they do not endure even for a second, but are incessantly arising and disappearing. It is not only feelings of previous existences that are no longer present, but also earlier feelings of the present existence. The feelings which manifested only a moment ago are also no longer in existence. All these are realised by the heedful meditator, who also sees that the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feelings, which are being experienced at the present moment are constantly arising and disappearing. Hence it can be surmised that feelings which will arise in the future will also disappear at the moment of arising. During meditation practice, contemplation is carried out thus: 1. Feelings of stiffness, heat, pain and discomfort which were experienced a moment ago did not reach the present moment of comfortable feeling. They passed away at the moment of feeling stiff, hot, painful and uncomfortable. As they passed away in this manner, they are impermanent. And because they are impermanent and unbearable, they are unsatisfactory, a source of distress. The comfortable feelings of a moment ago did not reach the present moment of intense discomfort; they passed away at that very moment of comfortable feeling, and are therefore impermanent. 2. Pleasant or unpleasant feelings of the present repeatedly cease and disappear even while they are being noted. Since they are impermanent, they are unsatisfactory and a source of distress.
3. The pleasant or unpleasant feelings of the future too will cease and disappear at the moment of their arising. They are, therefore, impermanent, distressful and not empowering ‘selves’. All feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, are without essence, they are subjected to conditional arising and disappearing. Thus, feelings cannot be equated with as empowering ‘selves’ that are permanent and all powerful. This is how feelings of the past, present and future are considered as they are being noted. There is also a method of reflecting on the feelings of the past and the future by inference from the feelings of the present: "Just as there are now impermanent feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, which cease even as they are being noted, there have been similar feelings before, perishing at the moment of their arising. They are therefore impermanent, distressful and cannot be regarded as empowering ‘selves’, etc.. The feelings which will come into being in the future will also pass away at the moment of arising and are thus impermanent, distressful and not empowering ‘selves’." From realising the inconsistency and impermanence of our feelings, we infer the feelings of others: "Just as the feelings in my ‘self’ cease and disappear while they are being noted, the feelings in others too, will also cease and disappear. They too, are impermanent, distressful and ‘Non-self’."
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL FEELINGS Just as Material Form is considered in two aspects, Internal and External, the Internal Material Form not becoming External Material Form and vice versa, so also feeling should be considered in two aspects, Internal and External. The feeling from inside does not reach outside; the feeling from outside does not reach inside. This is how it should be contemplated. When feeling that has arisen dependent on an Internal object is replaced by feeling that has arisen dependent on an External object, non Vipassana practitioner will assume that the Internal feeling has developed to become an External one. Conversely when pleasant or unpleasant feelings conditioned by an External object are replaced by pleasant or unpleasant feelings dependent on an Internal object, it is assumed that the External feeling has become an Internal one. Similarly, when feelings arise from an object far away change to feelings dependent on a near object, it is generally assumed that the far away feeling has moved from a far distance to nearby and vice versa. What is meant here, therefore, is change of objects, External and Internal, far and near, dependent on which feelings arise. The meditator who is noting the corporeal and mental phenomena as they occur takes note of the pain when an unpleasant feeling of pain arises in the body. While doing so, if the mind passes on to an External object and feelings of happiness or sorrow subsequently arise, these new feelings should be noted as happiness or sorrow. Thus, during this time of heedful noting, the original feeling of unpleasantness does not reach outside, it ceases internally.
Then attention is switched on to an External object which causes the arising of new feeling. The meditator thus, understands these phenomena. He fully understands also when the reverse process takes place; that is, the original feeling of happiness, for example, arising from an External object, ceases, and new feeling of pain is experienced internally. Internal feeling does not reach outside; External feeling does not reach inside. Feelings arise and cease at the respective moments of becoming and are thus impermanent, distressful and ‘Non-self’. COARSE AND FINE FEELINGS If we begin to feel subtle painful feelings while experiencing gross sensations of pain, we tend to believe that the gross sensations have changed into subtle ones. From experiencing subtle pains, when the feeling becomes very grossly painful, the belief is that the subtle pains have grown into gross pains. The watchful meditator, however, sees with every noting that painful sensations disappear, part by part, section by section, and therefore knows that the subtle pains have neither changed into gross ones, nor the gross ones into subtle ones. The old feelings disappear and are replaced by new ones arising in their place. This is the characteristic of impermanence. The meditator realises all this through his personal knowledge. Gross pains do not become subtle pains and vice versa; they disappear immediately at their respective moments of arising. Thus, feeling is impermanent, distressful and does not constitute an enduring, all powerful, controlling ‘self’.
INFERIOR AND SUPERIOR FEELINGS Painful sensations in the body are regarded as inferior forms of feeling whereas fine, pleasant sensations are regarded as superior kinds. Likewise, unhappiness, sorrow, dejection, and sadness are inferior feelings, while happiness and gladness are of the superior kind. In other words, feeling angry, depressed and unhappy is inferior feeling; feeling happy is superior feeling. But here again, happiness from delighting in sensual objects is inferior to happiness from devotional piety towards an object of worship, such as the Blessed One. As the experiences of feelings change from one type to another, people usually think that the inferior feeling has become a superior one, or the superior feeling has changed into one of inferior type. But the meditator perceives that the feelings cease even as they are being noted, and therefore knows that superior feeling neither becomes inferior, nor does inferior feeling become superior. They perish immediately at the moment of their arising and are, therefore, impermanent. The pain of inferior feelings neither becomes the happiness of superior feelings, nor do the superior feelings become inferior feelings. They cease at the moment of their arising and are impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. FAR AND NEAR FEELINGS With feelings far and near: feelings arising from distant objects do not become feelings dependent on near objects; feelings with regard to near objects do not become feelings concerned with distant objects. They cease at the moment of experiencing them and so they are impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’.
1. 2. 3.
erception is six-fold:
Born of eye-contact. Born of ear-contact. Born of nose-contact.
4. 5. 6.
Born of tongue contact. Born of body-contact. Born of mind-contact.
Whenever an object is seen, heard, touched, or known, we usually think: It is “I” who perceive; this object is perceived and remembered by “Me”. On seeing a sight, it is remembered as an object perceived at such and such a time; at such and such a place. The same applies to audible objects and other forms of sensory awareness. This process of perception or memory is viewed to be a personal feat: It is “I” who remember; “My” memory is excellent. However, this view is incorrect; in reality there is nothing individual or personal in the process of remembering, just insubstantial phenomena; it is not an empowering self that initiates this recall to memory. If perception were a “self”, a living “entity”, or our inner substance, that can empower, there would be no reason for it to stress and oppress. It is not normal for beings to cause themselves harm and injury, and it should be possible to manage that only good things are perceived and remembered. But since perception is stressful and does not yield to one's wish, thus, it does not constitute an empowering self.
Cognition of the characteristics of objects, retentive memory, remembering facts and retaining what has been acquired from learning are functions of perception. However, recalling to mind what is sad, sorrowful, disgusting, or horrible, form unwholesome aspects of perception, which are stressful and therefore stressful. Some people suffer from haunting memories of departed loved ones, sons, daughters, husbands or wives, or of financial calamities that have befallen them. These lingering memories bring about constant sorrow and worries; only when such memories is no more, is one relieved of the suffering. Thus perception, the function of recognition and recall, is truly stressful. So long as perception is bringing back memories of bereavement and financial loss, so long will sorrow and lamentation cause intense suffering, even resulting in death. This is how perception distresses by recalling undesirable experiences of the past. Perception is not an entity by itself; it is not a controlling, manageable, empowering self because its appearance is dependent on conditions. It cannot be manipulated as we wish by recalling only those experiences which are beneficial and profitable, and suppressing those which will cause distress and suffering. It is unmanageable, ungovernable, and thus not an empowering self, not a living entity, but simply insubstantial phenomena dependent on causes and conditions. But people in general find, on recalling past experiences, that there are some which are retained in their memory and conclude that:
It is “I” who has stored these experiences in mind; it is “I” who recall them. The same "I" who has stored them up has also brought them back to mind now. They cling to the belief, therefore, that there is one individual, the all powerful self, who stores up and recalls past experiences. This wrong belief arises because of lack of heedful noting at the moment of sensory activity and because of the fact that the real nature of the phenomena has not yet been realised due to immature Vipassana insight. When constant arising and ceasing of the phenomena of sensory awareness is seen as it truly is through mature Vipassana insight, realisation dawns that perception is also a natural phenomenon, constantly arising and disappearing. Through perception, recollection takes place. The retentive power of preceding perceptions is passed on to succeeding perceptions. As this retentive power increases on being inherited by the succeeding generations of perception, some people become equipped with the faculty of recalling past lives. This is how the perception in the life-continuum or deathconsciousness of the past life ceases but arises again, with reinforced powers of recall, as the birth consciousness and lifecontinuum of the present life. It is because of this handing over of "retentive power" by the previous perception to the succeeding one that we can recollect both what is wholesome and pleasant as well as that which is unwholesome and unpleasant. Without even thinking about them, the experiences of days gone by may sometimes resurface.
As his concentration gets stronger, a meditator engaged in Vipassana meditation may find memories from early childhood arising. The meditator should note them as they appear. Remorse over past mistakes and faults may lead to worry and restlessness in the course of meditation, and these may become a great hindrance to progress in the development of concentration and Vipassana insight. They should be discarded after taking note of them. Thus, perception which recalls past incidents and produces worry and regret is truly stressful. For this reason, too, it may be seen that perception is not an empowering self. Thinking that there is control over perception, remembering things as willed and not remembering things when there is no wish to do so, there may arise a belief that there is an empowering self that controls the process of remembering. Thinking that there is an enduring empowering self, ever present in the body, which carries out the task of remembering things, is belief in a “self”. This type of clinging can be discarded by taking note of every mental phenomenon which arises. By doing so, one perceives personally that memories keep appearing and instantly disappearing. Also, by taking note of the past incidents in one's life as they reappear in the mind's door, one comes to realise that permanent perception does not exist. There are only recurrent phenomena renewing themselves by incessant arising and ceasing.
This realisation drives home the fact that there is no permanent empowering self or living entity residing in one's body which does the task of remembering or recollecting. When perception of sights or sounds takes place, the meditator observes their arising and disappearing. Seeing that perception of sight or sound is always arising and falling away, there comes the realisation that perception is merely a recurrent mental phenomenon dependent on conditions and not the action of any abiding empowering self or inner entity. One also realises that perception cannot be managed in such a way that only pleasant, wholesome memories persist and unpleasant, unwholesome memories disappear. Since, it is thus not manageable and uncontrollable, realisation comes to the meditator that perception is not an empowering self or living entity, but merely a natural process dependent on conditions, incessantly renewing and disappearing. SENSE PERCEPTION LIKENED TO A MIRAGE Sense perception, the apprehension of sense-objects as reality, is likened to a mirage. A mirage is an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions. It commonly appears as images of sheets of water or houses in the hot gases that rise from the earth in the midday sun of the last month of the summer. Mirages are optical illusions. Wild beasts such as deer roam about in the summer heat in search of water. Seeing what appears to be a body of water in the distance, they run towards it only to find a dry tract: they have been misled by a mirage and put to a great deal of trouble.
Just as a mirage gives the illusion of a body of water or of houses where no such things exist, so also perception deceives people into thinking that whatever is seen, heard, touched or known is a human being, a man or a woman. With their illusory perceptions of what is seen, heard, touched or known, people become involved in multiple activities concerning them. To realise that perception is illusory and to save the ‘self’ from the sufferings of pursuing after nonexistent objects, one must mindfully note all material and mental phenomena as they occur. As concentration improves, it is seen that in every phenomenon there are only the material object known and the mind knowing it; later it becomes known that each phenomenon is a related event of cause and effect. Finally it is personally experienced that the knowing mind, as well as the object to be known, keeps on disappearing while they are being noted. Thus, what was formerly perceived to be enduring, permanent, an individual, a being, a man, a woman or an empowering ‘self’, is now seen as a deception, an optical illusion, a mirage. The meditator realises that in reality perceptions are merely incessant arising and disappearing phenomena dependent on arising conditions and such perceptions are in fact impermanent, stressful and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’.
ELEVEN-FOLD CONTEMPLATION ON PERCEPTION All perceptions, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or superior, far or near should be seen with one's own knowledge, as they truly are, thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my empowering ‘self’'. Here, past perception means the perceptions experienced in previous existences as well as those experienced previously in this life time. Of these past perceptions, it is obvious that perceptions of previous existences have long ceased to exist. However, to those with strong attachment to the concept of an empowering ‘self’ that controls, this may not be so obvious because of their view that it was this same empowering ‘self’ that cognise and remember things of previous existences and continues to cognise and remember things in younger days and now; They believe that all these are the work of one and the same empowering ‘self’. The meditator who is ever watchful of the rising and falling of the abdomen and the phenomena that arise at the moment of sensory impingement finds that the perception of sound disappears at once when noted as "hearing, hearing"; the perception of sight falls away when noted as "seeing, seeing"; so also the perceptions of thoughts and ideas disappear as soon as they are noted as thoughts or ideas. Observing thus, realisation comes through personal knowledge that perception is not everlasting; it does not last even one second and has the nature of incessantly ceasing.
Let alone perceptions perceived in previous existences, even in the present life, perceptions experienced in past moments are no longer existent, they have all ceased and disappeared. This, the meditator can see for himself. Even the perceptions that occurred only a moment ago have passed away. So also have the perceptions based on the objects of seeing, hearing and touching in the present moment. They are repeatedly arising and disappearing. Thus, it can be concluded that perceptions arising in the future will also disappear at the moment of their becoming. During meditation practice, the nature of perception is contemplated as follows: 1. The perceptions which recognised sense objects a moment ago do not reach the present moment; they disappeared even while recognising. Therefore they are impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’ or souls. 2. The perceptions which are recognising and remembering things now also disappear while actually recognising. Therefore, they are impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’ or souls. 3. The perceptions which will recognise things in the future will also disappear at the time of recognising and they are therefore impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’ or souls. Perceptions of the past and the future and of the whole world can be inferred from the knowledge of the perceptions which manifest at the time of noting. Just as the perceptions are ceasing as they are being noted in the present, so also the perceptions of the past disappearing as they occurred and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’ or souls.
Likewise the perceptions arising in the future will also disappear at their respective moments of occurrence and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’. The perceptions in one's person, in other people, and in the whole world also disappear at the moments of their arising and are all impermanent, suffering, not an empowering ‘self’ or soul. That the perceptions (which recognise and remember things) are impermanent is quite obvious if we just reflect on how easily we forget things we have studied or once memorised. Perceptions with regard to one's own body do not reach the moment of perceiving external objects; perceptions on outside bodies do not last till internal objects are perceived; they disappear at the respective moments of their arising and are therefore impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. Perceptions with regard to desire and craving, anger and transgression, conceit, wrong view, doubts and misgivings, are all unwholesome, they are perceptions of the gross type. Perceptions with regard to devotional piety towards the Blessed One, a Dhamma discourse, good advice and instructions from teachers and parents are fine, subtle types of perceptions, they are perceptions of the superior type. The gross types belong to the inferior class of perceptions. In other words, recognition of prominent, coarse objects is coarse perceptions; recognition of fine objects is subtle perception.
Coarse perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of fine perceptions; fine perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of coarse perceptions. They disappear at the respective moment of occurrence and are impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’. Inferior perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of superior perceptions; so also superior perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of inferior perceptions. They disappear at the respective moments of occurrence and are impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. Recognising and remembering distant, fine objects is called perception of the far distance; recognising coarse, near objects, objects in one's person, is called near perception. A distant perception does not reach the moment of occurrence of a near perception; a near perception does not reach the moment of occurrence of a distant perception. They disappear at the moment of arising and are impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’.
 Mental Formation
ental Formations are of two kinds: conditioned things and conditioning things. Conditioned things are those aggregates that have arisen through such causes as kamma (volitional activity), mind, climate (seasonal conditions) and nutriments. Immediately after the rebirth consciousness, mental and corporeal phenomena spring up as kamma resultants. Kamma resultant types of consciousness and their *concomitants together with kamma-produced physical properties such as eye, ear, nose, tongue and body, spring up in this way. They are all conditioned things, resultant effects of kammic activities, and they are called resultant mental formations as conditioned by kamma.
MIND AND ITS CONCOMITANTS The Blessed One taught that for consciousness to arise there must an object. The object may be a colour, sound, smell, taste, something tangible, or a mental object. These are the six external doors. Mental objects can be internal phenomena, such as feelings, thoughts and ideas. Corresponding to these external doors, there are six internal sense faculties, or sense doors. These are the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. Each of the five physical sense faculties can receive only its appropriate object; the mind door, however, can receive both its own proper mental objects as well as the objects of the five physical senses.
When an internal door receives its external object, there arises a corresponding state of consciousness, such as seeingconsciousness, hearing-consciousness, etc. Consciousness arises due to the union of the external object and the internal door or sense faculty. There can be no consciousness without these components being present. The process of the arising of consciousness is because "bare phenomena" is taking place and that there is no "self" involved in this process. This is the no-self characteristic of existence. There are mental factors or concomitants that arise and perish together with consciousness, sharing its object and basis. Though these concomitants have different functions, consciousness cannot arise without its concomitants, they arise together and disappear together. [For detailed investigation of mind and its concomitant, refer to Abhidhamma studies]. Likewise, mind-produced physical properties, such as the movements of bending, stretching, moving, going, standing, sitting, talking, and smiling, are called resultant mental formations. Because they are born of thoughts, they are resultant mental formations conditioned by mind. Mind and its concomitants are mutually conditioned and conditioning. We thus have mental formations as causal agents as well as mental formations as resultants. Physical properties produced by climatic conditions are resultant mental formations conditioned by climatic conditions. Physical properties that arise through intake of nutriment are resultant mental formations conditioned by nutriments.
Finally, all succeeding mental states and all their concomitants are resultant mental formations, dependent on the preceding mental conditions and their concomitants for their arising. All such aggregates which arise because of kamma, mind, seasonal conditions and nutriment are resultant mental formations, conditioned things. All conditioned things are impermanent; all conditioned things are suffering. These are corporeal and mental aggregates which manifest during the cognition of sense impressions, the five groups of grasping which can only be realised by Vipassana insight as impermanent, unsatisfactory and insubstantial. They should be seen as such. In order to see them in such light, one must mindfully note every arising of these aggregates as they appear. During this observation, as concentration gets strengthened, one becomes aware that the aggregates are incessantly arising and disappearing. The mental formations described so far, are conditioned things produced by kamma, mind, seasonal changes and nutriment. That which brings about physical, vocal and mental activities is the characteristics of volitional and mental formations. Of the five aggregates, the aggregate of matter has the quality of being changed or transformed by opposing circumstances. It cannot by itself bring about any action or change. It is a substantive mass. The movements of the volitional formations are expressed in the material body, giving the erroneous impression that it is the body that is doing the action. The aggregate of feelings experience feelings, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It cannot of itself produce any effective action.
Neither can the aggregate of perception, which merely recognises or remembers things, like a clerk in an office making a record for future reference. The aggregate of consciousness just knows that a sight is seen, a sound is heard, and so on. It is not capable of causing any action. It is the Aggregate of Mental Formations which is Responsible for Physical, Vocal or Mental Actions, such as Walking, Standing, Sitting, Lying Down, Bending, Stretching, Moving, Smiling, Talking, Thinking, Looking or Listening. The Wish to Go, Stand, Sit or Sleep is a Function of Mental Formations. All Three Kinds of Activities, Physical, Vocal and Mental, are instigated and organised by Mental Formations. To believe that all these activities are carried out by an enduring, empowering self is to hold the wrong view of a “self” within the mental formations and this view is known as clinging to a “self”. To believe that the empowering self which performs all activities resides permanently as a living entity in one's body is to cling to the wrong view of an enduring continuous “self”. Believing that this “self”, the living entity in one's body, acts according to its wishes, that our actions are subject to its will, is clinging to the wrong view of a controlling empowering self. In reality, there is no empowering self, no living entity to cling to, there are merely natural processes faring according to their own conditions and circumstances. The Blessed One taught that the functioning of mental formations is not the action of a living entity. From the viewpoint of the common person, there seems to be a living entity that executes the actions of going, standing, and sitting, but the Blessed One refuted this.
HOW VOLITIONAL MENTAL FORMATIONS CAUSE STRESS The Blessed One taught that volitional formations are not empowering entities, selves or souls, and they cause suffering in many forms. When we do things out of desire or greed, we become exhausted and stressed. When we say things which should not be said, we are embarrassed. If we commit criminal offences, we get punished. We burn ourselves with longing, losing our appetite and sleep. When we commit evil deeds, such as stealing or telling lies, we land in woeful states and undergo intense misery. Likewise, mental formations accompanied by hate, motivates vocal and physical actions which produce distress and suffering. When accompanied by delusion, conceit and wrong views they also lead to distress and suffering in the present and eventually to the states of woe (animal, petas, asura and hell realms). These are the ways in which volitional mental formations oppress. Through bad companions, through the defective guidance of poor teachers and through wrong attitudes of mind, we do, say and think things we should not do, say, or think about. In mundane affairs, we may get involved in blameworthy, illegal activities and indulge in bad habits such as drinking, drugtaking or gambling. Also because of greed or anger, we vocalise that which should not be spoken about. These activities result in destruction of property, punishment by legal authorities and loss of friends and associates. From the spiritual and moral standpoint, bad deeds such as killing and telling lies produce bad results, even leading to the misery of the woeful states. Thus, volitional formations oppress by producing bad kammic results.
Living beings and animals in the lower worlds are undergoing suffering because of unwholesome volitional formations which they have done in the past. In this human world, miseries due to the difficulties of earning a living, disease and maltreatment by others have their origin in past unwholesome volitional formations. These volitional formations cause sufferings because they are neither empowering selves, nor one's controlling inner core. It is not possible to manage volitional formations so that unwholesome ones are prevented from arising and only the wholesome ones appear. This can be experienced personally by meditators; they want to develop only the volitional formations pertaining to meditation, but they find, especially in the beginning, undesirable distractions making their appearances. Under the guidance of greed, various thoughts suggesting different procedures for meditation practice are continually arising. Other thoughts under the guidance of aversion and conceit, to practise this way or that, arise. The meditators must discard these distracting thoughts by noting "liking," "desiring," "thinking" and so on. As stated above, all these volitional activities tend to stress, they are unmanageable, therefore they are not empowering selves, not one's inner core; they are insubstantial phenomena arising dependent on conditions. They may be likened to the rain, the sun or the wind. We have no control over the rain. Although we may wish for it, we will not get it unless such conditions as clouds, humidity, and wind elements permit.
Likewise with the sun; when it is hidden by clouds, there is no sunshine. In the absence of cloud cover, the sun shines brightly whether we want it or not. The wind blows only when atmospheric conditions are right. These external phenomena have nothing to do with us; we have no control over them. Volitional formations are internal phenomena over which we also have no control. They fare in accordance with conditions and are, therefore, not empowering selves. THE REALISATION OF NON SELF THROUGH MENTAL FORMATIONS For the meditator constantly taking note of corporeal and mental phenomena, it becomes very obvious how volitional formations are uncontrollable and not amenable to his will. While contemplating on the movements of the abdomen and bodily motions, noting ‘rising, falling, sitting, touching’, if stiffness arises, it has to be noted as ‘stiffness, stiffness’. Then the desire to change postures follows. This desire is mental activity headed by volition, which is giving silent instructions: ‘Change the posture, change the posture’. The meditator may want to continue noting without changing posture, but because of the insistent urgings of volition, he makes the change. This is an unwanted volitional formation. Likewise, while noting feelings of pain, heat or itchiness, posture is changed at the direction of ungovernable volitional formations. Again, during the course of meditating, sensual thoughts may arise. These are volitional formations which the meditator does not wish for, and they must be eradicated by vigilant noting. Volitional formations may urge the meditator to talk to someone, to look around or do some work.
These are all undesirable volitional formations which arise all the same whether one likes it or not. They are examples of the unmanageable, uncontrollable nature of volitional formations. They should not be welcomed, but discarded by heedful noting. To believe that there is an empowering self that controls is to adhere to attachment to a “self”; an entity. The meditator who takes note of the processes of corporeality and mentality as they take place clearly perceives that things and happenings are never predictable. In this way he removes the attachment. As he observes the processes of origination and dissolution taking place in quick succession, and sees that which is cherished is dissolving, the clinging to a “self” is abandoned. Nothing is seen to remain stable; everything is passing away and disappearing. In this way, the belief in the permanent existence of an empowering self or inner substance, is also eradicated. Then the meditator perceives that events take place only when various factors come together to fulfil the necessary conditions for their happening. Take, for instance, the arising of eyeconsciousness. There must be the eye, an object of sight and sufficient light. Then there must be the intention to look. When there is eye and a clearly visible object of sight, the act of seeing is bound to ensue. Likewise a sound is heard only when there is ear, sound, unobstructed space and intention of inclining the mind to hearing. When there is ear and a clearly audible sound, an act of hearing will surely take place. An act of touching will take place when there is an object, the body, bodily impression and intention to touch.
Seeing that respective resultant events of seeing, hearing, and touching take place only when corresponding factors necessary for their arising have come together, the meditator realises that there is not an empowering self, a soul or living entity which is enabling the seeing, hearing, touching, masterminding or overseeing activities. He thus banishes clinging to an empowering self, which holds that there is a self, a soul or a living entity. MENTAL FORMATIONS ARE LIKENED TO A BANANA PLANT Mental (volitional) formations are likened to a banana plant. This plant looks like any ordinary tree, having the appearance of a solid, hard core trunk; but when cut up and examined, it is found to be made up of layers of fibrous material with no substantial, inner core. Mental formations are like the banana plant, void of inner substance. Mental formations appear to possess an essentially solid inner core, but in reality they are devoid of such inner substances. The meditator can realise this reality by constantly taking note of corporeal and mental phenomena as they arise. For instance, while walking, the meditator notes; "walking, walking", and "raising", "stepping", "dropping". As concentration becomes stronger he comes to notice the arising of the desire to walk or take a step. This desire is also observed to arise and pass away. He further realises that any action is preceded by an intention which comes about due to a cause.
Generally, beings hold the view that in wanting to go anywhere, it is the "I" within, that initiates the intentions and desires to go, as in: "I go because I want to go", which is clinging to the idea of a controlling ‘self’ within. Now if realisation is gained that the “the desire to go” is not from an “I”, but arising from causes that are inconsistent and actually impermanent and coreless like a banana plant, the knowledge dawns that in reality, there is not a controlling or empowering ‘self’ that performs these deeds, only phenomena arising due to a cause. The desire to bend, to stretch, to move, or to change position is also seen in this true light. In addition, the effort put into fulfil these desires is also momentary volitional formations. It is realised that they are void of essence, not empowering ‘selves’, mere fleeting phenomena. As greed and aversion make their appearance, they are noted as "wanting", "liking", "anger", and they soon disappear, establishing the fact that they are also not empowering ‘selves’; that they are not imbued with essences or inner cores. When faith, loving-kindness and compassion arise they are noted as they are. Such mental formations fade away instantly and are therefore insubstantial, void of essence, not empowering ‘selves’. This analytical knowledge brings home the fact that mental formations are like a banana plant, which, when cut open and examined layer by layer, has no solid, inner core.
ELEVEN-FOLD CONTEMPLATION ON MENTAL FORMATIONS Thus, in the course of contemplative meditation, all mental formations, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or superior, far or near, should be contemplated on with one's own experiential knowledge, as they truly are, that is: ‘Mental formation is not mine, I am not mental formation, mental formation does not constitute an empowering ‘self’'. In all human beings, mental formations are conceived as the motivating forces behind physical, vocal and mental activities. They are thought to be responsible for directing changes between the four bodily positions of walking, standing, sitting and lying down. People have the view that it is mental formations that direct: "Now go; now stand; now sit down". To them mental formations appear to initiate actions such as bending, stretching, moving, smiling and etc. It also seems that it is mental (volitional) formations which cause vocal actions, just as if they were ordering, "now say this". Mental formations are seen to be responsible for acts of thinking, seeing and hearing. There are also those who cling firmly to the belief: "It is “I” who is doing all the actions; all actions are being done by me," they are attached to the idea of a single all empowering ‘self’. "It is “I” who has done all the actions in the previous existence; the doer in the present existence is also “I”. For them, “I”, the doer is everlasting. On the other hand, meditators through their practice, realised that, mental formations of past existences; the wish to go, stand or speak, do not continue to the present existence. They arise and pass away, then and there.
It is obvious that the desires to do, take or think in previous existences have now entirely disappeared. To the meditator who is constantly watching the rise and fall of the abdomen, when an itchy feeling is felt, he notes, "itching, itching". While noting thus, if the desire to scratch the itchy spot arises, he immediately notes, "desire to scratch, desire to scratch". The mental formations; namely; the desire to scratch, is seen to disappear every time it is noted. Also while noting, "stiff, stiff" because of a feeling of stiffness, if the desire to bend or stretch appears, it has to be noted. Thus the mental formations, namely the desire to bend, to stretch or change posture, disappears when noted. In this manner, the mental formations of wishing to change, to talk or to think are seen to be disappearing after they have arisen. To the meditator, not only mental formations of past existences, but presently forming mental formations are seen to be constantly arising and disappearing. Thus, he realises that mental formations of past existences have not continued to the present, that present mental formations will not go forward to the future, and that future mental formations will not move over to a later time; they disappear at the moment of arising. Thus, he realises with his own knowledge that mental formations are not lasting and are truly impermanent; they are distressing and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. In meditation practices, mental formations are further contemplated as follows:
1. The intention to step out with the right foot of a moment ago does not reach the moment of intending to step out with the left foot; the intention to step out with the left foot of a moment ago does not reach the moment of intending to step out with the right foot: the intention perish and disappear at the respective moments of arising; they are, therefore, not lasting, distressful and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. Similarly, the mental formations of the past do not reach the present moment. They quickly disappear at the moment of their arising and are impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’. 2. The presently forming mental formations of desiring to do or of careful noting do not reach the next moment. They are always disappearing as they are formed and are not lasting, distressful and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. 3. The mental formations which will arise in the future concerning the desire to do will also cease without reaching a later future time. They are consequently impermanent, suffering and not empowering ‘selves’. With the knowledge of the mental formations which occur at the time of noting, the mental formations of the past, the future and of the whole world can be inferred in the same manner. Just as the impermanent mental formations of wishing to do and noting are perishing even while being noted, so also did the mental formations of the past quickly disappear at the time of occurrence. They are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’, ‘souls’ or ‘living entities’.
Likewise, the mental formations of the future will also disappear at the respective moments of occurrence and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and are not empowering ‘selves’. The mental formations of one's own person or in other people, and indeed the whole world, will also arise and disappear, just like the mental formations which are being noted at the present moment. They are all impermanent, suffering and they do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. The differentiation between internal and external mental formations is the same as the one we have described for feelings and perceptions: mental formations on an internal object are internal; those developed concerning an external object, that is, thoughts of acquiring or destroying external objects, animate or inanimate, are external. Mental formations concerning an internal action cease before reaching the moment of thinking of an external action. Therefore they are impermanent, suffering and not an empowering ‘self’. Similarly, with respect to mental formations concerning external actions. Thinking of doing a rough action is a coarse type of mental formation; contemplating doing fine, subtle deeds is a fine type of mental formation. Mental formations of the coarse type do not become mental formations of the fine type, and vice versa. They disappear at the moments of arising and are impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. All kinds of thinking about and performing bad deeds are inferior mental formations. Thinking of and doing meritorious deeds are superior mental formations.
Among meritorious deeds, the act of keeping precepts is superior to acts of charity, meditation is superior to keeping precepts, and insight meditation is superior to concentration meditation. Inferior mental formations do not reach the moment of arising of superior mental formations; superior mental formations do not reach the moment of arising of inferior mental formation. They disappear at the respective moments of their arising and are therefore impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. The mental formations of charitable deeds do not reach the moment of arising of the mental formations of keeping precepts, and vice versa. The mental formations of keeping precepts do not reach the moment of arising of mental formations of meditation, and vice versa. The mental formations of the development of concentration meditation do not reach the moment of arising of mental formations of insight meditation, and vice versa. They all disappear at the moment of their arising and are therefore impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. Contemplation on the mental formations of unwholesome and wholesome deeds is very subtle, but the ardent meditator can see from his personal experience how these mental formations keep on disappearing at their respective moments of arising. For instance, while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, if desirous thoughts arise, the meditator notes that phenomenon as "wanting, desiring."
When noted thus, the desiring thoughts disappear before reaching the moment of the wholesome deed of noting. The meditator who has advanced Vipassana insight knows this phenomenon clearly as it is. When the meditator feels glad over an act of charity, he should note; "glad, glad". When noted in this way, the meditator who has reached higher stage of Vipassana insight sees clearly the mental formations of the wholesome deed of contemplating on charity disappearing before reaching the moment of noting. In addition, when random thought arises while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, it should be noted. When thus noted, the mental formation of noting, the rise and fall disappears without reaching the moment of arising of the random thought; the mental formation of random thought also falls away without reaching the moment of reaching it as a random thought. In this manner, the meditator perceives each and every mental formation disappearing before it reaches the moment of arising of another mental formation. Mental formations of thoughts arising from distant objects do not reach the moment of thoughts on near objects, and vice versa. They all disappear at the respective moments of their arising and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’, souls or living entities.
n reality, consciousness is of seeing (as in eye), hearing (as in ear), odour (as in nose), taste (as in tongue), tactile (as in skin, touch) and mind consciousness. (3) light and atmposphere
Seeing consciousness arises
(2) external object
Reality of Consciousness Eye consciousness arises due to conditions: internal object, the eye; eternal object, apple; air; light; seeing consciousness arises.
Consciousness is generally viewed by many as being an entity by itself, all enduring, all powerful and controlling in all that the individual thinks, speaks and does: It is “I” who see; I see. It is “I” who hear; I hear. In this way, all six kinds of sense consciousness are attributed to a single all powerful self. This kind of unconsciously and habitually clinging to the concept of the all powerful “I” is easy to understand.
Objects which are devoid of cognition, such as logs of wood, lumps of earth, or stones, are regarded as inanimate; only those objects invested with faculties of cognition are regarded as animate, as living entities. It is not surprising that all the six forms of consciousnesses are believed to be housed within an all empowering self for each living being, but in fact they are not, they are not living entities. Most people are acquainted with the mind; they talk about mind, but they rarely speak of the things (the concomitants) that condition the mind such as sense contact that always appear in conjunction with mind. Furthermore, they are attached to that mind as "I", a ‘Self’. It is “I” who see, I see. It is “I” who hear, I hear. Humans are not alone in having this false view, even gods, devas and other living beings cling to the belief that consciousness (a component of mind), is a ‘Self’. Because of this false view, the mind (with consciousness as a component) has the tendency to delude and distress. Consciousness and by extension, the mind is assuredly not a ‘self’. HOW CONSCIOUSNESS STRESSES When distressful and undesired objects arise from the six external doors due to conditions beyond their control, distressful consciousness arises, leading to pain and mental anguish or suffering. All living beings, including brahmas, devas and those in the suffering planes (hell, hungry ghosts, asuras and animal planes), like to dwell on pleasant sights, but they are forced to face horrible and repulsive sights as circumstances dictate.
For unfortunate people, the majority sees undesirable objects. This is how seeing consciousness tends to distress and cause suffering. In spite of their wishing to hear sweet sounds and sweet words, circumstances may present them with unpleasant sounds. Stricken with misfortune, they may be subjected to fearful noises, threats and abuses. This is the way hearing consciousness causes suffering. Again, all beings like to enjoy nice, clean fragrances and scents, but conditions and circumstances may not be so obliging. This is how odour consciousness causes suffering. Distress originating from eye, ear and nose are not very apparent in the human world, whereas in the animal world, the world of petas (hungry ghosts) and the hell realms, the painful and suffering nature from these six doors to consciousness is very vivid. All forms of life in the animal world are constantly subjected to objects or sounds that will either be destructive to their lives or those that they will destroy. They are those living beings that exist in filthy, putrid conditions, thus seeing filth and subject to foul odours all the time. In the realms of hell, everything seen, heard, smelt, tasted, touched and thought about is unpleasant; there exists nothing pleasant at all. Beings in such realms are subject to painful suffering from the six kinds of consciousness all the time. Everyone crave good tastes, but not all have the good fortune to satisfy this craving, thus taste consciousness can be the cause suffering. In this respect, too, the oppression is more apparent in the four suffering worlds.
Humans like to feel only pleasant sensations; but when circumstances do not allow, they have to put up with undesirable experiences such as when struck by diseases. At such times their suffering may be so distressful that they yearn for death to release them from their suffering. It is far worse, of course, in the four nether worlds. Human beings would like to have lives that are always carefree, but circumstances may dictate differently. Instead, there are many who are gripped with depressions, disappointments, sorrows and lamentations. Some of them never get out of their miseries and unhappiness throughout their existence. They are victims of suffering by mind consciousness. Consciousness is not subject to one's will. Arising as determined by circumstances, it is unmanageable and uncontrollable. Although one may wish for a pleasant sight, in the absence of pleasant objects one cannot see pleasant sight. On the contrary, when there are unpleasant objects around, and when the eyes are kept open, it is unpleasant sights which are seen. This is an example of how seeing consciousness, not being subjected to one's will, arises dependent on conditions. Likewise, although one may wish to hear only pleasant sounds, in the absence of pleasant objects of sound they cannot be heard. Reluctant as we are to hear undesirable sounds, when there are such sounds, inevitably they will come to our ears. Hearing consciousness is thus unmanageable, arising depending on conditions. In a similar manner, although we like to enjoy pleasant fragrances, if they are not present, our desires will not be fulfilled. Hence, people provide themselves with scents, perfumes and flowers.
However unwilling we may be to breathe in unpleasant odours, when they permeates the air, we have to suffer from inhaling them. They may even cause physical illnesses, such as headache. This is how odour consciousness is not amenable to will, arising in accordance with causes and conditions. Although we wish to enjoy good tastes, pleasant taste consciousness cannot arise in the absence of good food. It arises only when good food is taken. Hence this sensuous pursuit after food, day in and day out. When taken ill, one seeks relief and cure by taking bitter medicine, which we do not, of course, relish. This is how taste consciousness arises, uncontrollably and unmanageably. Tactile (touch) consciousness can be pleasant only when there are pleasant objects such as fine clothing, comfortable bedding and good seating. Constant effort has to be made to acquire inanimate and animate objects for delightful sensations of touch. When it is extremely hot or cold, or when we are pricked by thorns, or injured by fire or weapons, or when we are taken with severe illness, we have to suffer, however reluctantly, from the effects of undesirable tactile consciousness. Thus tactile consciousness and in this respect, all other forms of consciousnesses are obviously uncontrollable, arising in accordance with causes and conditions. While seeking out means of a comfortable, joyful lifestyle, thoughts about difficulties in everyday life, about loved ones in unhappy situations, about financial and business problems, about old age and debility, may arise to mar our happiness. This is how mind consciousness arises unmanageably and uncontrollably.
CAUSAL ARISING OF CONSCIOUSNESS The expression; "in accordance with causes and conditions”, refers to consciousness arising due to circumstantial and conditional causes that produce like results; wholesome, unwholesome causes will render appropriate consciousnesses. Consciousness cannot be brought about merely by desire. All and any consciousnesses arise due to causes, and such causes are uncontrollable and unmanageable. It is obvious, therefore, that consciousnesses and their causes are neither empowering ‘selves’, nor inner cores. Seeing Consciousness arises only when There is Eye and Object Originating Sight; Hearing Consciousness arises only when There is Ear and Object Originating Sound; Odour Consciousness arises only when There is Nose and Odour Originating Object; Taste Consciousness arises only when There is Tongue and Object Originating Taste; Tactile Consciousness arises only when There is Body and Tactile Object; and Mental Consciousness artises, only when There is Mind and Mental Object. When these conditional causes for their respective consciousnesses are realised, the concept of permanent entities is discarded.
The meditator who is taking note of corporeal and mental phenomena as they occur will perceive clearly that consciousness is constantly arising and disappearing, depending on conditions. Thus, the meditator clearly understands that there is not an empowering ‘self’ or living entity which brings about the act of seeing. He realises that there is consciousness only when the right conditions prevail. In this way, the meditator abandons the belief that all actions, physical, vocal and mental, are being done by a ‘self’. For those who do not perceive the true nature of consciousness as it really is, consciousness is conceptualised as an enduring, all powerful ‘self’, and these people are attached to the aggregate of consciousness, more firmly, than they are attached to the other aggregates (there are altogether five aggregates; aggregates of material body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness). In such people, consciousness is viewed as an empowering ‘self’, more than they view material body, feeling, perception and mental formations, even though these are also mental concomitants. Such people believe that it is the mind that controls sensations; that recognises things or causes actions, not so much as conditions and causes. The Blessed One explained further: "Each consciousness arises because of its own conditions and is named according to the condition through which it arises. • On account of the eye and visible objects arise a consciousness; this is “seeing”consciousness; • on account of the ear and sounds arise a consciousness; this is “hearing” consciousness; • on account of the nose and odours, a consciousness arises; this is “smelling” consciousness;
• • •
on account of the tongue and taste arise a consciousness; this is “taste” consciousness; on account of the body and tactile objects arise a consciousness; this is “tactile” (body) consciousness; on account of the mind and mind objects arise a consciousness; this is “mental” consciousness. Just as a fire that burns on account of wood is called a wood fire (pic), and one that burns on account of bamboo splinter, grass, cow dung, paddy husk, or refuse, is called a bamboo fire, a grass fire, a cow dung fire, a paddy husk fire or a refuse fire, just so is consciousness named according to how it is conditioned.
A forest fire might originate from burning of refuse or dried leaves. If there is constant fuel supply and no one to extinguish the fire, it will rage on for miles around. It might seem that the same fire continues burning all the time, but careful observation will reveal that the fire that burns the refuse is not the fire that burns the grass; similarly grass fire is not a leaf fire. Among leaf fires, the fire that burns one leaf is not the same as the one that burns another. In just the same way, all types and grades of consciousnesses, which living beings viewed to be one and the same, are seen by careful observation to be distinct, separate consciousness arising dependent on conditions. When we consider just one form of consciousness, such as eyeconsciousness, we will find different consciousness arising from different colours, such as white and black.
Narrowing down to just one colour, such as white, the vigilant meditator who has advanced to finer Vipassana knowledge, will see, in the seemingly continuous and single consciousness of white colour, preceding consciousness separate and distinct from the succeeding ones. The distinction is more pronounced in the case of hearing than in seeing; similarly, in smelling and tasting, each consciousness is noted separately and distinctly. The most numerous noting and the most pronounced distinction between each consciousness is involved in the phenomenon of touching. When feeling pain, careful noting as "pain, pain", enables one to distinctly see each consciousness of pain, moment by moment as it arises. Similarly, mental consciousness of thought and ideas can be noted separately as each consciousness arises. If any thought or idea intrudes while noting rising and falling of the abdomen, it should be noted as it arises. Usually the intruding thought or idea ceases as soon as its arising is noted, but if thoughts persistently arise conditioned by the same mental objects, they should be observed appearing turn by turn in sequence. When the attention moves over to another mental object, the arising of separate consciousness is very distinct. When the meditator can perceive the arising of each distinct consciousness with each separate noting, he will come to realise personally, the impermanent nature of consciousness, its stressful nature due to constant arising and disappearing, and its insubstantiality because of its uncontrollable and unmanageable nature. Such personal realisation can only be developed through advanced Vipassana practice.
CONSCIOUSNESS LIKENED TO A CONJURER'S TRICK Becoming conscious of something is like performing a conjuror's trick. When seeing an object, a person ordinarily believes that “he” sees (the object); he conceptualises thus: "I” see; it is “I” who see. Thus, he too conceptualises when: • • • • • Hearing: "I” hear; it is “I” who hear. Smelling: "I” smell; it is “I” who smell. Eating: “I” eat; it is “I” who eat. Touching: "I” touch; it is “I” who touch. Thinking: "I” think; it is “I” who think.
Thus, the ultimate reality of consciousness is hidden (tricked) by conventional concept; the knowledge is not gained by seeing the conditions that cause consciousness to arise. CONTEMPLATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS Of the four mental aggregates (corporeal or material part being the fifth of the five aggregates expounded by the Blessed One), consciousness, is the most prominent. Mental concomitants (which arise and disappear with consciousness leading), such as desire and hatred, are described as "mind" in everyday language: "desiring mind", "liking mind", "hating mind". The Blessed One had said: "All consciousness, whether Past, Future or Present, Internal or External, Gross or Fine, Inferior or Superior, Far or Near; should be seen with one's own knowledge, as it truly is, thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my empowering ‘self’'."
Past consciousness may be the consciousness of previous lives; it may also be the consciousness which occurred during younger days or which happened in all the intervening days, months or years since then. Even today, there was the consciousness which arose prior to the present moment. Amongst all these possible types of past consciousness, it should be very obvious that the consciousness of the past existences has not come over to the present life; that it ceased in those existences. But for those with strong attachments to an enduring, empowering ‘self’, it is not easy for such knowledge and understanding to arise, because they hold to the view that consciousness, is a soul or an empowering ‘self’, a living entity. According to them, when the old body of past existences breaks up and passes away, consciousness leaves it and transmigrates to a new body, where it remains from conception in the mother's womb till the time of death, when it again leaves to a fresh body in a new existence. THE LAW OF DEPENDENT ORIGINATION REGARDING CONSCIOUSNESS To know that fresh consciousness arises conditioned by kamma is to know the Law of Dependent Origination through the knowledge of rounds of kamma and kamma result. Having discerned the conditions of corporeal and mental properties in this way (that neither is there a doer, nor one who subsequently reaps the deed's results, but just phenomena proceeding according to cause and effect) by means of the rounds of kamma and kamma result.
Here, in this manner of discernment, "by means of the round of kamma" includes causes such as ignorance, craving, clinging and mental formations. In addition, by discerning the first rebirth linking consciousness and the last death consciousness, all the consciousnesses that have arisen in between in the course of one existence become known. Also, by knowing all the consciousnesses with respect to the present life, the consciousnesses with respect to the past and future existences can also be discerned. Knowing consciousness is knowing the mental concomitants that accompany it and also the material base on which consciousness is dependent. ELEVEN-FOLD CONTEMPLATION ON CONSCIOUSNESS As the meditator knows in this way that starting from rebirth consciousness a continuous series of consciousness (moments) arises and falls away, it is clear to him that the consciousness of previous existences ceased there and then and does not reach this existence. It is clear also that the consciousness of the present existence cease at the respective moments of their becoming. Therefore the meditator is in a position to discern all past, future and present consciousness with his personal knowledge. To the meditator, if thoughts arise while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, he notes the fact thus, "thinking, thinking." In this way the thoughts disappear.
When he hears, he notes, "hearing, hearing" and the hearing consciousness disappears. He does not think, as ordinary people do, that he keeps on hearing for a long time. He finds that he hears intermittently; hearing-disappearing, hearingdisappearing; the hearing consciousness disappearing in successive moments. Likewise when noting tactile consciousness, it is seen to quickly disappear. When concentration is well developed, the seeing consciousness can be seen arising and disappearing in quick succession. Scent consciousness and taste consciousness should be considered in the same way. The noting mind is also perceived to be alternately noting and disappearing. In short, with every noting, both the object noted and the knowing mind are seen arising and disappearing in pairs. To the meditator who is seeing clearly in this way, seeing consciousness does not reach the moment of noting, thinking or hearing, it falls away at the instant of seeing. He realises it’s impermanent. Similarly, noting, thinking and hearing do not reach the moments of seeing; they disappear at the respective moments of noting, thinking and hearing. Hence, the meditator realises they are impermanent: 1. Seeing consciousness, hearing consciousness, tactile consciousness and thinking consciousness appearing moments ago do not reach the present moments of seeing, hearing, touching and thinking. Such consciousness pass away and are therefore impermanent; they are distressful and do not constitute controlling, permanent ‘selves’.
2. All these consciousnesses which are presently arising do not reach the next moment of seeing, hearing, touching and thinking. They cease now and are therefore impermanent, distressful and do not constitute controlling, permanent ‘selves’. 3. All these consciousnesses which will arise in the future will not reach the moment next to that future instant. They will disappear and are therefore impermanent, distressful and do not constitute controlling, permanent ‘selves’. Knowing personally in this way how consciousness arises and falls away in one’s body, it can be inferred that, just like the consciousness which has been noted, all the consciousnesses which remain to be noted, consciousnesses in other people and in the whole world, are arising and disappearing. We have considered all types of consciousness, but there remains consideration of consciousness from other aspects, such as internally and externally. The consciousness which already has an internal object does not reach an external object; the consciousness which has external object does not reach an internal object. While being fixed on the respective objects, consciousness ceases and is therefore impermanent, distressful and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. Consciousness can be coarse or fine when compared to either strong or weak emotions, such as consciousness of anger or greed; strong emotions will create coarser consciousness than weak emotions.
The meditator who is engaged in constant noting perceives the arising and disappearing of coarse as well as fine consciousness; that the coarse consciousness does not reach the moment of arising of a fine consciousness, and the fine ones do not reach the moment of arising of the coarse ones. They fade away at the respective moments of their arising. Therefore, all forms and types of consciousness are impermanent. They are not controlling entities and they cannot be managed; they are thus, impermanent, distressful and do not constitute independent powerful selves or souls.
PART TWO GENERAL NOTES ON CONTEMPLATION
In the first process of cognition of sight, consciousness registers only the ultimate reality of visual object. In the first round of reflection on the visual object, there is still consciousness of what has actually been seen, namely the sight. No misconception has appeared yet. If heedful noting is done at this stage, wrong concepts cannot arise and cognition will rest only on the ultimate object. In the second round of reflection, the concepts of form and shape (features) of visual object begin to appear. In the third round of reflection, the concept of identity of visual object has appeared. Likewise in the process of cognition of sound, odour, taste and touch, the same sequence of transition from consciousness of reality to consciousness of concept takes place.
When consciousness of sight and sound arises, or when the first round of reflection on what has been seen or heard takes place, if careful noting as; ‘seeing’ ‘hearing’ ‘smelling’ ‘tasting’ ‘touching’ or ‘thinking’; is done instantly, wrong concepts cannot arise. The consciousness will rest on the reality of what is actually cognised. Keeping consciousness with reality is the reason for taking note of sensory awareness at the instant it arises. If note is taken as ‘seeing, seeing’ while an object is being seen, the process of cognition will cease just with the fact of seeing, and the subsequent process of cognition of concepts acquired through reflection cannot take place. In accordance with the teaching; ‘just seeing at the time of seeing’ consciousness of seeing ends its course there. There follows the analytical knowledge of the unknowing matter, such as eyes and sounds, of the body and the knowing mind which is consciousness of the objects. There is also knowledge that seeing and noting recurrently arise and fade away. Realisation comes that there is only impermanence, suffering and not a ‘self’ that empower, thoughts, speech and deeds. Similarly with what is heard, smelt, tasted, touched or thought about; constant noting of these phenomena will reveal the difference between physical and mental properties, and their impermanent, stressful and non ‘self’ nature. Realisation comes to the meditator: "Previously, because there was no taking note of the phenomena, wrong concepts were believed to be reality; the conjuring tricks were accepted as reality.
Now that the phenomena are noted as they are, there is no perception of any empowering ‘self’, there is only incessant arising and disappearing." When seeing an object, the seeing consciousness falls away immediately after it has arisen, there is no such thing as seeing for a long time. There is only fresh arising of seeing consciousness with each act of seeing and its instant disappearing. Likewise, hearing, touching and thinking. There is no substantial hearing. With each act of hearing, the hearing consciousness arises and instantly fades away. There is no sustained touching: at each act of touching, the touch consciousness arises and instantly fades away. There is no sustained thinking; with each act of thinking, the mind consciousness arises and instantly fades away. Therefore everything is impermanent. Arising is always followed by cessation; there is nothing reliable, trustworthy, only distress and suffering. Everything happens due to causes and conditions; not as one wishes; all things are not empowering ‘selves’. It is obvious from this that the five aggregates are void of permanent substance, or any wholesome, pleasant inner core which is subservient to one's will. They are not empowering ‘selves’, they are insubstantial.
SEEING ‘SELFLESSNESS’ All the physical and mental components of the five aggregates are neither enduring nor empowering ‘selves’. This is evident through their characteristics of; not being subjected to anyone's will, uncontrollable, stressful and changeable. When these characteristics are observed as they occur, the knowledge develops that the corporeal and mental aggregates are not empowering ‘selves’ but mere phenomena. Such knowledge is knowledge developed by contemplation on the characteristics of non-self. THE DIFFICULTY OF UNDERSTANDING ‘NON-SELF’ The characteristics of impermanence and suffering are easy to understand, but the characteristic of non-self is hard to comprehend. Exclamations such as "Oh, impermanent, transient," readily come to mind when a pot is accidentally dropped and broken. Again, when afflicted with boils or sores or pricked by thorns, we readily murmur, "Oh what pain, what suffering”. In this way the characteristics of impermanence and unsatisfactoriness are clearly visible and easily understood, but just as an object lying in the dark is hard to explain to others, the characteristic of non-self is not easily understood. The characteristics of impermanence and unsatisfactoriness are well known both inside and outside the Blessed One’s teaching, but the characteristic of non-self is known only in the Blessed One’s Dhamma.
‘NON-SELF’ EXPLAINED BY MEANS OF IMPERMANENCE There are two forms of truths; conventional and absolute truth. The Blessed One taught the masses using the conventional mode of speech, which serves ordinary daily usage referring to physical things such as names of things and people, all of which are of a material nature. Things and names of conventional truths can be further reduced to their components; such as: A man is named Jack in conventional terminology; Jack is a concept of a man; the word man can be further reduced to mind and matter; and mind and matter can be further reduced to elements and various mental states. The office building is by conventional terminology a building; this building can be reduced to sand and cement and is of a temporary nature. The car is so named, but the ultimate reality is the components that make up the car. Thus, conventional usage is built on concepts which are impermanent and changeable. In contrast, Dhamma Truths are of the absolute nature and cannot be further reduced to separate parts. There are only four categories of ultimate truths in the Blessed One’s Dhamma; these are; consciousness, mental factors, materiality and Nibbana. The words, impermanence and suffering, when applied in daily usage and understood in the conventional term are not suitable to convey the truth of non-identity or non-self. Only when realised in the absolute sense can these two words be used in explaining the teaching of non-self.
The Blessed One taught that to realise non-self (anatta), impermanence (anicca) should be first realised. He further taught that the meditator should know the following six factors: 1. 2. 3. Six internal bases of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. Six external bases of sight, sound, odour, taste, touch and mental impressions. Six kinds of consciousnesses: seeing, hearing, scent/odour, taste, material, and mental consciousness. Six kinds of sense contact; through eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. Six kinds of feeling through eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. Six kinds of desire; hunger for sights, sounds, odours, tastes, touches and mental impressions.
4. 5. 6.
Here ‘should know’ is to know by means of Vipassana contemplation, by means of knowledge of the Noble Path. Therefore, whenever anything is seen, it should be mindfully noted so that the eye and its object of sight, the seeing consciousness, the contact and the feelings that arise on seeing are all made apparent. And if liking or craving for the object develops with seeing, that desire should also be noted as ‘liking, liking’. Likewise, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking; the six classes of six kinds of objects should be known. To the meditator who is aware of these, the knowledge is gained personally that eye, visible sight and eye consciousness arise and cease conditionally.
The meditator realises: "Previously, I thought that there is a permanent entity, an enduring, empowering ‘self’. Now I see by actual observation that there is no such “self” within, only the natural phenomenon of incessant arising and disappearing”. Perceiving no empowering ‘self’, no living entity, the meditator may even wonder who is engaged in meditation. Realisation that there is no ‘self’ is attained through fully understanding the nature of impermanence. The Blessed One continued: The sensitive material quality of the eye, which serves as the base for seeing consciousness, arises and fades away on every occasion of seeing; thus, it is not permanent, not the enduring, not an everlasting entity, not an empowering ‘self’ that it is conceived to be. If one says, ‘the eye is an empowering ‘self’', it is just like saying one's empowering ‘self’ is arising and passing away and not stable. Thus, it is concluded that the unenduring material quality of the eye is not an empowering ‘self’." Likewise, similar conclusions may be drawn with respect to visible form, eye consciousness, eye contact, feelings resulting from eye contact, and liking and desiring for sights: they do not constitute and are not empowering ‘selves’. This is how the six phenomena which become prominent at the moment of contact are to be regarded; as not empowering ‘selves’. In a similar manner, the six kinds of phenomena which are apparent at the moment of hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking may also be regarded as not empowering ‘selves’.
‘NON-SELF’ EXPLAINED IN TERMS OF IMPERMANENCE AND SUFFERING To explain non-self in terms of both impermanence (anicca) and suffering (dukkha), the Blessed One said: "The body is not permanent. What is not permanent is stressful. What is stressful cannot be regarded as a powerful, enduring ‘self’. What is not a ‘self’ should be regarded with proper wisdom according to reality thus: ‘This is not my body; I am not this body; this body is not my ‘self’." In short, form is subject to change and stress and is therefore not an empowering ‘self’. It is not proper to regard as "mine" what is really not a ‘self’; it is not proper to think vainly of what is Non-self as "I am, I can ..."; it is not proper to regard it as "my empowering ‘self’." In this manner should form be viewed and regarded in accordance with reality. In a similar manner, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness are also shown to be not ‘self’ by their characteristics of impermanence and suffering. The knowledge of impermanence accruing from noting the beginning and end of each arising constitutes right knowledge, the first step in the series of ten insight knowledge developed through Vipassana meditation. Initially, right knowledge sees only the beginning and end of corporeal and mental phenomena; the fine details of what happens in between are not yet perceived. It is just the knowledge of impermanence which accrues from perceiving the origination and dissolution of the continuing processes as they happen. When noting the rising of the abdomen, the beginning of the rise is perceived as well as its end.
To know the beginning of the rise is to know the origination; to know the end of the rise is to know its dissolution. Seeing the origination and the dissolution of each arising, there can be no misconception of it as permanent. When noting the disappearing of the rising of the abdomen, the contracting motion of the abdomen is distinctly seen. This is the air element in motion. In seeing the beginning of the fading motion of the stomach and its end, the air element is being seen. The fading Material Form was not in existence at the time of extension; it is only when the rising motion comes to an end that the fading Material Form comes into being. Then finally the fading Material Form falls away, so it is also impermanent. CHARACTERISTICS OF IMPERMANENCE A condition is impermanent because of its nature of coming to an end. In accordance with this definition, the disappearing movement of the abdomen, manifested by the contracting motion, comes to an end, it ceases. Hence it is impermanent. An extension of the definition is that the fading Material Form was previously non-existent; it then comes into being and then dissolves, thus it is impermanent. While noting ‘falling, falling’, the beginning and end of the disappearing is perceived, and the meditator realises its impermanent nature. This is true understanding of the nature of impermanence on the level of right knowledge, seeing the origination and dissolution of the continuous processes as they occur.
At the beginning level of Vipassana insight, three, four, or five distinct moments of beginning and ending of the phenomenon can be discerned during the interval of one cycle of rising and disappearing of the abdomen. When the meditator have attained to the higher stages, numerous moments of dissolution will be seen to flit by during the interval of one cycle of rising and disappearing. The material body of rising and disappearing, being subject to incessant dissolution, is indeed impermanent. When the motions of bending or stretching the limbs are heedfully noted, as "bending, bending," or "stretching, stretching," the beginning and end of each bending or stretching is distinctly seen. It is seen thus because the respective motions are being carefully noted. One who does not note may not be aware of the bending or stretching of the limbs. Even if one is aware of these motions, one will not perceive the beginning of the motions separately from their ends. One will be under the impression that the hand which was there before bending or stretching still remains there after the motion. CONTEMPLATING IMPERMANENCE IN THE AIR ELEMENT When bending or stretching, it will be seen that there is a slow motion of the limbs gradually passing from one moment to another. In every instance of bending or stretching, the beginning of the extending and moving is the coming into being origination of the air element; the end of the extending and moving is the dissolution of the air element.
When noting bending, to know the beginning and ending of each act of bending is to know the arising and dissolution of air element. Similarly, when noting stretching, to know the beginning and end of each act of stretching is to know the arising and dissolution of air element. During the time taken by one single act of bending and stretching, knowing the separate slow motions of the limbs gradually passing from one moment to another is also knowing the arising and dissolution of the air element, whose characteristics are extension and movement. The gradual slow motion of the limbs clearly brings out the nature of impermanence. This cannot, however, be realised without heedful noting of each action. While walking, the meditator who is taking note as "right step, left step," knows the beginning and end of each step. This is knowing the arising and dissolution of the air element, which is responsible for extension and movement of the legs. Similarly, the meditator who takes note of the movements of the legs in raising, stepping out, and dropping down knows separately the beginning and end of those movements. This is knowing the arising and dissolution of the air element. Knowing the separate slow motions of the legs involved in each act of moving is also knowing the coming into being and dissolution of the air element. Thus, the air element, responsible for the movement of each step, is arising and passing away with each step and is, therefore, impermanent.
CONTEMPLATING IMPERMANENCE IN THE MATERIAL (EARTH) ELEMENT When noting the feeling of touch anywhere on the body, knowing the arising of the sensation of touch and its disappearance is knowing the origination and dissolution of the material quality involved in touch sensation. The meditator knows the arising and passing of both the sensitive material quality of his body and the tactile body it touches. He realises that freshly arising material bodies are not stable, but impermanent, because he has seen their incessant arising and passing away by actual noting. When noting hearing as "hearing, hearing," the meditator notices the sound freshly arising and disappearing. This is knowing the arising and dissolution of sound. Thus, any sound which arises is impermanent. Along with this material quality of the sound, the material quality of the ear on which sound makes its impression also arises afresh and disappears with the sound. So it may be said that once the origination and dissolution of sound is perceived, the origination and dissolution of the material quality of ear is also known. Thus, the meditator knows the impermanent nature of the material quality of the ear as well. The sound of music, the howling of dogs and any sound whatsoever are generally regarded as heard in one continuous stretch, but to the meditator whose Vipassana insight has been well developed, those sounds appear in minute portions, section by section, one after another. The meditator, therefore, realises that the material quality of sound is also arising and disappearing at a very fast pace.
Likewise, the meditator who is noting "seeing" knows, when his Vipassana insights get highly developed, that seeing consciousness and seeing are quickly appearing and disappearing. The visible forms, also, which arise and disappear are not permanent. The material quality of eye which arises and disappears simultaneously with the visible form is also impermanent. While eating, the meditator notes the taste and knows when the taste disappears. The taste which appears afresh and disappears is, therefore, impermanent. The impermanent nature of taste is very plain. However pleasant the taste is, it remains on the tongue only for a short while before it disappears. As with taste, the material quality of the tongue on which the taste manifests disappears simultaneously. Thus, when the taste is seen to be impermanent, the material quality of the tongue is seen also to be impermanent. The meditator who keeps note of smell knows that a smell keeps on appearing and disappearing. Smell, which comes into being and dissolves instantly, is therefore impermanent, as is the material quality of the nose which arises and falls away with it. When thinking occurs while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, it has to be carefully noted. It will be observed that the thinking disappears even while it is being noted. Every time thinking disappears, the material quality on which it is based disappears also. This material base which arises and falls away with every act of thinking is non-enduring, impermanent. The above concerns material qualities which the meditator realises personally as impermanent by constantly noting the phenomena of the aggregates.
These material qualities relate to the whole of the body; they arise and dissolve, renewing themselves at every moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking. Like the material qualities inside one's own body, the material qualities from the bodies of other people are also simultaneously arising and disappearing. For instance, noting sound as "hearing, hearing", the material quality of sound is disappearing, as are other material qualities in one's body, as are those in the outside world. These are realities concerning the characteristics of impermanence. When one knows the characteristics of impermanence thoroughly, it is easy to understand the characteristics of suffering and non ‘self’. The characteristic of impermanence is that it does not endure. It can be defined as not being in existence, it comes into being and then ceases. These are the characteristics of impermanence. In the case of lightning; initially, it is not in existence; suddenly a flash appears and disappears instantly. The phenomenon of lightning provides all the characteristics of impermanence. Whatever arises afresh to soon disappear is said to have the characteristic of impermanence. The meditator who continues to observe the process of sense awareness sees things arising and ceasing. Only when he has acquired this personal knowledge of the characteristic of impermanence is the true knowledge of insight into impermanence developed. Seeing dissolution, the meditator knows that it is impermanent. This knowledge is insight into impermanence.
Two Kinds of Stress (suffering) There are two kinds of sufferings. The first is unbearable pain, the kind that is suffering because it is distressful or repulsive. The impermanence of incessant arising and disappearing is not the painful kind of suffering, it belongs to the second kind; it is suffering because it is fearsome. The phenomenon of incessant arising and ceasing is terrible, fearsome, not good. There are two kinds of stress; the stress and inconvenience of pain; mental or physical pain is unbearable, oppressive and distressful. There is also the second type of stress; the incessant rising and falling away of mental and physical phenomena. The incessant rising and falling away of phenomena is truly stressful, worrisome and uncontrollable. We depend for our existence on the aggregates which are in dissolution all the time and which may not arise the next moment; in which case we die. It is just like living in an old, dilapidated building, liable to collapse at any time. In the case of the building, there is the possibility that it may last for days, months, or even years before coming down, whereas the mental and physical aggregates inside the body cannot endure even for a second. They are undergoing dissolution all the time and are thus more unsatisfactory and worrisome. Hence it is distressful and full of suffering.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF SUFFERING? Incessant, unceasing distress is the sign of suffering. Here, unceasing distress refers to the incessant arising and passing away of mental and physical phenomena. Seeing by personal experience and realising that the rising and passing away of phenomena to be stressful, unsatisfactory and not dependable is true insight into suffering. DEVELOPMENT OF KNOWLEDGE OF SUFFERING While the meditator is noting the phenomena of mental and physical properties, he reflects on the life process and sees its equivalent in the incessant origination and dissolution taking place in the rising and falling of the abdomen; in bending, stretching, lifting, stepping, and dropping. He sees too that there is origination and dissolution taking place in noting the instances of touching, hearing, seeing, and tasting. He sees the corporeal and mental aggregates as unsatisfactory states and distressful due to this process of origination and dissolution. He sees all things as arising and disappearing phenomena. It dawns on him that there is the possibility of death at any moment, that there is uncertainty in the life process due to origination and dissolution. He sees all these as fearful and suffering states. This is true knowledge of suffering. THREE FORMS OF CLINGING "This is mine" is clinging with craving. "This I am" is clinging with conceit. "This is my ‘self’' is clinging with wrong view.
CLINGING WITH CRAVING: "THIS IS MINE" When one has taken delight in an object, one craves for it and even if the object does not belong to one, one grasped it as if it does. Thus, seeing delightful objects, one desires to possess them. One grasp everything one fancies, animate or inanimate. One desires to possess. The material properties in one's body are constantly coming into being and passing away; if one sees this as it really is, it is frightening. It is just like having to live in a dilapidated building. One may feel quite well for the present, but a change for the worse may take place at any time, depending on conditions and circumstances. Once it is realised that the body does not endure even for a moment, that it is always changing, and therefore a source of suffering, one will not take delight in it. Similarly, the meditator who sees the unceasing process of origination and dissolution of the aggregates sees only fearsomeness and suffering in them. Finding them as such, he has no desire to grasp the body as his own. Therefore, it is not proper to regard the body with the thought "this is mine." CLINGING WITH CONCEIT: "THIS I AM" To consider Material Form as "this I am" is to cling to it with conceit. When one has good eyes and ears and can see and hear well, one begins to take pride in them: "I have good eyes, good ears, I look beautiful, I have a pleasant voice, I am well, I am strong."
Conceit is developed when there is the misconception that one's possessions are enduring and permanent. When the material qualities of eyes, ears, and visible forms are wrongly held to be permanent, vanity is built round them. It is like a man who has a cache of gold and silver hidden in a certain place: he may be full of pride over his wealth, but if he finds out that his cache has been robbed and he no longer owns any riches, the bubble of his conceit bursts. Likewise, when there is clinging to the material qualities which become manifest at the moment of seeing and hearing, and they are thought to be still in existence, conceit is developed over them. The heedful meditator knows that they all arise only to disappear and finds no reason for pride such as: "I have good eyes, I am beautiful." Thus, there is conceit when things are conceived as permanent. On the other hand, there is no conceit when they are known to be impermanent. CLINGING WITH WRONG VIEW: "THIS IS MY ‘SELF’" Holding on to the belief; "this is my ‘self’" is clinging with wrong view. This wrong view is conceived when there is deluded belief that one's person is everlasting and manageable. When knowledge arises that one’s person is unstable, constantly arising and disappearing, then there is no more grounds for clinging to the body as "a ‘self’," as a living entity. When the meditator knows that the body cannot be managed and controlled, there is nothing for him to cling to as a ‘self’.
Thus when impermanence is known, there is no more clinging. According to this, "changeableness at every instant," should also be taken as a characteristic of ‘non-self’. CONTEMPLATION OF IMPERMANENCE OF FEELINGS Feeling is of three kinds: feeling of pleasantness or happiness; feeling of unpleasantness or unhappiness; feeling of neither pleasantness nor unpleasantness. Ordinary worldlings regard all three types of feeling as belonging to a ‘self’; as a living substance; as enduring, empowering and permanent. There is clinging to a belief in a permanent, continuous entity, soul or an empowering ‘self’ which resides in their body from the time of conception to the time of death and, some believe, even after death. They think that this same permanent entity in the body is the one that feels pleasant or unpleasant sensations; this ‘self’ feels now pleasant in mind and body, now unpleasant and uncomfortable. Thus they believe that feelings last forever, that they are enduring. Actually, when feeling pleasant, there is no unpleasant or neutral feeling; when feeling unpleasant there is no pleasant or neutral feeling. Similarly, when feeling neutral, there is no pleasant or unpleasant feeling. There is no feeling which is everlasting. Whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, feeling arises depending on conditions, lasts only a moment and then disappears. One who does not practise Vipassana meditation will not be able to realise the reality of feelings; he will view feelings as arising simultaneously.
Thus, while feeling a painful sensation in the body one hears some glad news and is happy over it. Or one may be enjoying a pleasant bodily sensation when one happens to think about an unhappy event and feel unhappy. On these occasions, it is usually believed that both pleasant and unpleasant sensations are being felt at the same time. This is because one lacks the ability to distinguish between two successive minds or feelings. In reality, the feelings arise one at a time, one after another. Thus, when the meditator who is diligently noting phenomena rising and disappearing, notices the appearance of a painful feeling in the body, he should give concentrated attention to it and note it as "pain, pain." If his concentration is well developed, the unbearable pain may disappear or increase in intensity. For some, the pain will fade away completely and suddenly as if removed by hand. When there is no pain or pleasant feeling to take note of, the meditator reverts back to noting the usual, neutral phenomena of the rising and falling of the abdomen. This is contemplating neutral feeling. While thus contemplating neutral feeling, if pleasant feeling arises, attention should be switched on to it. Similarly, attention should be given to any unpleasant feeling that happens to arise. Taking note of the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings as they arise in this manner, personal knowledge confirms that they are not everlasting. This is discerning each kind of feeling as it occurs in the present. The meditator who has gain advanced insight in his Vipassana practice, will find that feeling falls away and ceases section by section, bit by bit.
The ordinary phenomena of rise and fall are also found to be passing away section by section, bit by bit. When pleasant feelings and neutral feelings appear in turn, they are separated, not one, continuous phenomenon or process. Similarly with unpleasant feeling appearing along with neutral feeling, they are noted as two distinct feelings. The meditator observing in this manner perceives each feeling or sensation to arise and disappear instantly, and this drives home the fact that feeling is not everlasting. This is knowing the phenomenon section by section in terms of the present moment. The meditator who is watching the phenomena of rising, disappearing, and feeling painful is doing so in order to see each phenomenon section by section, bit by bit, in the present moment. Therefore, the meditator clearly perceives how pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings with respect to sense objects fade away immediately after they have arisen, and he realises with personal knowledge that all feelings are of an impermanent nature. Unbearable pain in the body is not permanent as it arises at certain moments. While noting the pain as ‘pain, pain’, the pain may disappear. For the meditator whose concentration is developing well, each sensation of pain disappears with each noting. As one sensation disappears, a fresh one arises, only to fade away instantly. On seeing a pleasant sight, an agreeable feeling arises; this also disappears when noted. In a similar manner, an unpleasant sight causes a disagreeable feeling which disappears when noted. Pleasant or unpleasant feelings which arise from hearing, smelling or tasting also disappear when noted.
When noting not particularly pleasant or unpleasant, neutral objects of contemplation such as the rising and falling of the abdomen, the feeling observed is a neutral one, and it also disappears with every noting. All three feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, are impermanent. When these three kinds of feelings are perceived to be impermanent, it is realised too that they are stressful, not a ‘self’; just phenomena arising and passing away. Pleasant sensations are pleasurable; thus, people see them as enduring, everlasting, and in their greed to maintain and enhance this perceived happiness, they use all the means in their possession to pursue it, usually for the duration of their life time. However, when they see such pleasant sensations arising and just as quickly disappearing, lasting not even a tenth of a second, they lose passion for them. They realised that while in pursuit of such happiness, they may meet their death. Further, seeing all mental and physical phenomena arising momentarily and passing away the next moment, they realised that there is nothing anyone can rely upon. It is their experience that when the perceived happiness do not materialise as expected, they need to find means to avoid unhappiness or unpleasantness; means of maintaining a ‘self’ in a neutral condition. Even as the neutral feeling of neither happiness nor unhappiness is being sought, physical pain and mental anguish may arise. And they appear because happy feelings and neutral feelings are not permanent.
Thus, impermanent happy feelings and neutral feelings are also not dependable. To seek them is stressful; when they disappear it is stressful too, because unhappy feeling comes in to take their place, especially after the disappearance of a happy feeling, when one may be plunged into the depths of despair. For instance in the case of happy parents, wealthy people, loving couples; their suffering will be immense when the source of their happy feelings are suddenly taken away from them; their sense of loss will be great. Thus, feelings have the intrinsic nature of being impermanent, stressful and inconsistent and because of these characteristics, they cannot be regard as; this is mine, this I am, this is my ‘self’'. In the case of form, the term involves not only the material qualities inside one's body, but also all external objects, animate and inanimate. As to feelings, it is chiefly the internal ones which are grasped as one's own. In feelings of happiness, one takes delight in announcing: "This is mine". Neutral feelings, being devoid of unpleasantness, have the nature of happiness, although attachment to them is not so strong, there is still some delight in the very fact that they are neither pleasant nor unpleasant. Unpleasant feelings are no doubt undesirable, but thinking; "it is I who is suffering", is still grasping them with a ‘self’ concept. Attachment to feelings in this way is brought about by ignorance of the real nature of impermanence and stress. The meditator who is taking note of feelings as they occur knows at once their suffering nature.
The ordinary person perceives feelings in terms of an empowering ‘self’: "I” suffer; “I” feel happy; “I” feel pain, while delighting in happiness; “if this pain goes away, I will feel happy". Whereas, the meditator knows from the very outset, that there is only continuous arising and passing away of the aggregates. When unhappy feeling appears, the well practised meditator perceives it as an undesirable intrusion occurring in the continuous arising and passing away process of mental and physical properties. He perceives it as another process of arising and passing away superimposed on the one he has been observing. From its very first appearance, the meditator recognises its oppressive nature, just like a thorn which has become embedded in the flesh. A happy feeling appears to be pleasant and good while it is happening, but the effort that has to be made in search of or for maintaining it as an empowering ‘self’ is stressful. If an unwholesome act is performed in pursuit of pleasurable feeling, suffering has to be faced in the woeful state to which one will accordingly be doomed. Delight in pleasurable sensations keeps renewing the cycle of existences, resulting in the suffering of old age and death. When happy feeling disappears, the attachment to it gives rise to intense unhappiness. Therefore, happy feeling passes away, giving rise to suffering at the next moment. CONTEMPLATION OF MIND While the meditator is contemplating the rise and fall of the abdomen, should a mind arises caused by a lustful mental object, he should note it as a mind with lust. This is knowing the mind as it truly is.
When noted thus, mind with lust ceases and is followed by a continuous stream of mind made up of the wholesomeness of moment to moment noting and skillful consciousness which are concerned with mundane acts of seeing, hearing and so on. Noting and knowing the mind with lust as well as mind without lust in this manner is contemplation of mind with mindfulness. When ill-will arises in the course of noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, it has to be noted. The ill-will falls away at once and in its place there arises the wholesome consciousness of the act of noting the neutral and wholesome impulse of the acts of seeing and so on. The meditator also notes mind without illwill by noting it, too. Thus, when the mind is conscious of delusion; the mind that is doubtful or distracted; or that is with sloth and torpor, these are noted as such and they disappear. In their places arise the wholesome mind of the act of noting, and the neutral and wholesome impulse of the acts of seeing or hearing. Mindfulness arises in their place. This is noted by the meditator before he reverts to noting the rise and fall of the abdomen. Again, while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, if distraction and restlessness appear, they are noted as "distraction," "restlessness." When noted thus, restlessness disappears, the mind remains still and tranquil. This state of mind is also to be noted. When the concentration is developed, and the mind rests on the object under contemplation, this quiet mind is also known.
When restlessness appears, it is then noted and the mind becomes still again. All these changes in the state of mind are heedfully noted. A mind which is noted and contemplated on is said to be free of defilement. A mind which remains to be noted and contemplated upon is not free of defilement. The meditator takes note of all these states of mind. Minds with lust and desire, ill-will, distraction, and restlessness are all of the coarse variety. When free of those coarse minds, there arise in their place wholesome and neutral minds, which are fine minds. Therefore, the meditator engaged in watching phenomena as they take place perceives that the coarse mind does not reach the moment of fine mind and so on. They disappear at the respective moments of their arising and are impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. The classification of mind according to inferior and superior status is similar to the classification of inferior and superior mental formations. The inferior unwholesome mind does not reach the moment of arising of wholesome neutral mind; the superior wholesome mind also does not reach the moment of arising of the inferior unwholesome mind. They cease at the moments of their respective arising and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and do not constitute empowering ‘selves’.
The wholesome mind of generosity does not reach the moment of arising of wholesome mind of moral precepts or of meditation. The wholesome mind of moral precepts does not reach the moment of arising of wholesome mind of meditation, and vice versa. The concentration meditation mind does not reach the moment of insight meditation; the insight meditation mind does not reach the moment of concentration meditation. They all cease and pass away at the respective moments of their arising. The person not noting the phenomena of sensory awareness conceives that when he looks from a distant object to a near one, the mind which sees the distant object comes closer to him. When he looks from a near object to a distant one, he thinks the mind has gone away to a distance. Similarly, when a non meditator hears his handphone rings, while he was in fact listening to the distant sound of an airplane, he presumes that the mind which was listening to the distant sound has moved nearer; when hearing a distant sound while attending to a nearby sound, he presumes that the mind which was attending to the nearby sound has moved away to a distance. Also the non meditator, while noting a distant odour, a nearby scent is suddenly apparent; he is of the view that the mind from afar has come nearer. Again, while observing the scent of a flower he is holding in his hand, he becomes aware of an odour of decayed food farther away. Thus, being untrained in Vipassana, he believes that the mind which is nearby appears to have gone afar.
While tactile sensation is being felt on the feet, and another tactile sensation is felt on one's breast, the distant sensation appears to have moved closer, and vice versa. While thinking of a distant plane flying high above, the non meditator turns his thoughts to the flower he is holding in his hands; the untrained person believes that the mind far away has moved nearer. In short, it is the general belief that there is only one permanent mind which knows everything near and far. The meditator who notes every phenomenon of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking knows experientially that the mind from afar does not come nearer; the near mind does not go afar. At respective moments of arising, they cease and pass away.
PART THREE MATURING OF INSIGHT
HOW INSIGHT KNOWLEDGE IS DEVELOPED hrough the practice of Vipassana meditation, a person acquires insights and gains experiential knowledge of the realities of existence. This knowledge is not from books or hearsay, he realises from personal experiences that all living beings are impermanent; that is, all are born into suffering and subject to ageing, decay and death; and most of all, within all living beings, there is neither a “self”, a soul, a living entity that can empower, nor an essence that is all enduring.
Before this he was taught that in order to perceive the nature of impermanence, suffering and ‘non-self’ in the five aggregates of Material Form, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formations and Consciousness, he has to take note of every act of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking.
He has also been taught that he must contemplate the Five Groups of grasping as just mental and physical properties and that the knowing is a function of mind (mentality). He has also heard about Cause and Effect, about the nature of incessant arising and disappearing, impermanence and insubstantiality. All of these constitute knowledge acquired from hearsay or learning. Then while taking note of rising, falling, bending, stretching, moving, extending, pressing, feeling, touch that is hard, coarse, soft, smooth, hot, cold, and seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching, the meditator realises that the objects he is taking note of are corporeality and the knowing of these objects is mentality, and that there are only these two: Corporeality and Mentality. When he takes note of eye consciousness, ear consciousness, touch consciousness and mental consciousness, he knows that consciousness is Mentality and the location of this consciousness is Corporeality; that there are only these two. This is knowledge acquired through personal experience. Further, when there is desire to bend, he bends; when there is desire to stretch, he stretches; when there is desire to walk, he walks. Noting all these, he comes to realise that he bends because there is desire, he stretches or walks because there is desire to do so; there is no living entity making him bend, stretch or walk, there are only respective causes for each result produced. This is also knowledge from personal experience.
If the meditator fails to take note of arising phenomena he cannot see them as they really are. He develops feelings, either liking or disgust for them; from liking comes craving, from disgust comes anger; because he craves for them, he has to make efforts to obtain them, and because he has anger for them he plans ways to be rid of them, thereby producing wholesome and unwholesome kamma, in consequence of which there are new becomings. In this way he comes to understand the Law of Dependent Origination concerning the Cause and Effect of phenomena. Again, both the objects of Material Form, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formations and Consciousness, and the knowing mind keep on arising afresh and disappearing. Thus, he knows rightly that they are impermanent, suffering and do not constitute any empowering or enduring ‘selves’. Such Insight Knowledge, beginning with that of differentiation between Corporeality and Mentality, right up to knowledge of their Nature as Impermanent, Suffering and not an empowering ‘Self’, is not gained from hearing or learning but by Personal Experience. Thus, the person who can perceive the true nature of impermanence, suffering and non existence of an empowering ‘self’ within, through personal experience is one who is well instructed, equipped with both the knowledge of learning and the insights of personal experience. The meditator who can perceive in this way soon reaches the stage in which the rapid arising and dissolution of Corporeality and Mentality are discerned. When this stage is reached, the meditator witnesses strange lights, auras, experiences unprecedented happiness, intense joy and quietude.
He also experiences lightness in body and mind, softness and gentleness, vigor and energy. He thus feels indescribably pleasant in body and mind. His mindfulness is so perfect that it may be said that there is nothing he is not mindful of, his intellect so keen and sharp that it seems there is nothing he cannot comprehend. His religious fervour increases and his faith and devotion in the Blessed One, Dhamma and Sangha grow unprecedentedly clear and bright. In Reality, all these Developments have to be Noted and Rejected! When they are noted and rejected thus, this stage of knowledge is passed and the next stage is forthcoming, where the object of meditation and the meditating mind are perceived to be disintegrating and disappearing pair by pair. For instance, when the rising is noted, it falls away together with the noting mind. Each act of rising is discerned to be disappearing in successive separate disappearances. This is discerned at every moment of noting. It even appears that the object of meditation ceases first, and the noting of it comes later. This is of course what actually happens. When arising of thought is contemplated, the noting mind arises only after that thought has disappeared. The same thing happens while noting other objects: the noting takes place only after the object to be noted has disappeared. But when knowledge is not yet fully developed, the object to be noted seems to disappear simultaneously with the knowing mind. This is in accord with the teaching that only the present moment is contemplated.
Perceiving the continuous and rapid process of dissolution, he comes to know that death may occur at any time, which is a terrifying thing to realise. This is knowledge of danger or terror. When things are seen as dangerous, the understanding arises that they are destructive and full of danger. This further knowledge is an advancement of meditative insight. The meditator no longer finds delight in these destructive aggregates of corporeality and mentality. He finds them detestable, wearisome, and this is advanced insight knowledge. Before the development of this advanced insight knowledge, he may be quite satisfied and happy with his present physical form, and satisfied and happy with the expectation of human or celestial physical form in a future existence. He craves for and looks forward to the happiness of human or celestial existence, and a beautiful, healthy body. With the arising of this advanced knowledge, he no longer feels happy, he no longer lives with joyful expectation. The so-called happiness of human life is made up of incessantly arising and ceasing corporeality and mentality. The meditator also visualises that the so-called happiness in a celestial being is similarly constituted of fleeting corporeality and mentality, for which he has developed detestation and weariness. It is just like the fisherman holding a dangerous snake, thinking it to be an eel: once he realises that he has a dangerous snake in his hand, not an eel, he wants to throw it away as quickly as possible. Furthermore, before the advent of this advanced knowledge, he takes delight in all the feelings he is enjoying, and he yearns for pleasurable feelings of the human or celestial worlds in future existences.
He takes delight in the good perceptions he is blessed with now; he longs for and is happy with the thought of having good perceptions in future existences. He takes delight in thoughts and actions of the present life and thoughts and actions in future existences. Some even pray for what they would like to do when reborn. Some indulge and rejoice in daydreaming and imagination now and look forward to doing the same in coming existences. But when advanced insight knowledge is developed, he sees the ever arising and ceasing of feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness as they truly are and feels a distaste for them. Just as they are quickly passing away right now, whether one is reborn as a human or a celestial being, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness will always be disintegrating. Considering thus, he feels dispassionate towards all these formations (aggregates), and is dissatisfied with them. As the meditator progresses in concentration and insights, the meditator becomes fully dissatisfied and wearied with conditions and the ever arising and passing away of mental and physical phenomena. When such fervent distaste is developed; the wish to escape from them, to discard them arise, and the subsequent striving to get rid of them. It is then that a stage of equanimity of mind will arise, and when this is fully developed, Nibbana can be realised through attainment of the knowledge of the Noble Path and Fruition, becoming a Stream Enterer, a Once Returner, a Non-Returner or an Arahant.
Thus, it is essential to strive hard for the development of genuine insight knowledge. Thus, the Blessed One taught: "All compounded things, conditioned by kamma, mind, seasonal variations and nutriment, are transient. When one comprehends this truth by Vipassana knowledge, one grows dissatisfied and wearied with all this suffering (all compounded corporeality and mentality). This dissatisfaction and antipathy is the true and right Path to purity, to Nibbana, free from all defilement and suffering." The meditator who takes note of every act of seeing, hearing, touching and knowing as it arises perceives only phenomena rapidly arising and disappearing. He knows, therefore, things as they truly are; all are transient. With this knowledge of impermanence comes the realisation that there is nothing delightful and pleasant in the present mind and body; future states of mind and body, having the same nature of impermanence, will also be undelightful and unpleasant. He therefore develops distaste for all mentality and corporeality, and he wants to be free from them. He strives for liberation by continuing with his meditation. INSIGHT KNOWLEDGE IS DEVELOPED WHEN SUFFERING IS SEEN All mentality and corporeality which manifest at every moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking are incessantly arising and disappearing, they are transient. Because of their impermanence, they are stressful and source of suffering.
The meditator perceives that all the mentality and corporeality which appear at the moment of sensory awareness are undergoing instant dissolution and are therefore transient. Because they are impermanent and liable to disintegrate at any moment, the meditator perceives them as not dependable and a source of suffering. For some meditators, unpleasant sensations such as stiffness, heat, pain and itchiness are constantly arising in various parts of the body. At every appearance, these sensations are noted, enabling the meditator to perceive the whole body as a source of suffering. Only through Vipassana practice can this unique insight knowledge that the body is not dependable, transient and a source of suffering be perceived. Thus, he perceives pain and other bodily sensations as phenomena arising and immediately disappearing; they are just objects of insight knowledge, without any clinging to a ‘self’; whereas, the ordinary person sees pain and other bodily sensations as, "my feeling, I am suffering," as belonging to “me”; clinging to a self. Whether perceived as suffering because of impermanence or as a massive source of unbearable suffering, there is no delight in compounded things, only dissatisfaction. There is dissatisfaction and weariness with regard to present and future mentality and corporeality, a total distaste of the twin arising phenomena.
This is development of advanced insight knowledge. When this knowledge is further developed, there arises the wish to discard mentality and corporeality; to be free of them. The meditator continues with the work of meditation in order to achieve freedom. In time, striving on, a stage of equanimity of mind arises and the path to Nibbana is realised. INSIGHT KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPED WHEN A ‘SELF’ IS NOT SEEN The Blessed One said: “Distaste is the true and right path to purity to Nibbana, free from all defilement and sufferings." When, through Vipassana contemplation, one comprehends the truth that acts of seeing and hearing are mundane mentalities and corporealities, that they can neither empower, nor be enduring ‘selves’, nor living entities; one grows dissatisfied and wearied with them; one then looks at them with distaste. Most people take mentality and corporeality to be a ‘self’, a living entity, they delight in them and feel happy about them. However, the Vipassana meditator sees them only as incessantly arising and perishing phenomena, and realises, therefore, that they do not constitute empowering ‘selves’. They tend to stress; they are seen to be non ‘self’ and cannot be subjected to one's will. Thus, the meditator takes no more delight or pleasure in mentality and corporeality. There arises the wish to discard them, to be free of them. He continues with meditation and as he does so, further insight knowledge arises, leading to freedom of mind.
DEVELOPMENT OF HIGHER VIPASSANA INSIGHT KNOWLEDGE Finding only rapid dissolution and disintegration at every instance of contemplation, the meditator becomes wearied of and disenchanted with the aggregates of mentality and corporeality arising in the acts of seeing, hearing and so on. He does not wish to hold onto them, he wants to abandon them. He realises that only in the absence of these incessantly arising and perishing mental and corporeal phenomena will there be peace. Thus, arises his genuine desire for Nibbana. ANTICIPATING NIBBANA The meditator developing higher Vipassana insights sees the reality of suffering latent in mentality and corporeality. Seeing thus, he diligently accelerates his practice and develops the insight knowledge for liberation. As the determination to attain Nibbana and desire to be liberated from the ills of mentality and corporeality develops, the meditator increases his efforts and contemplates with earnestness and gains comprehension of the nature of impermanence, suffering and non ‘self’; he attains insight which is deeper than previously. Particularly more pronounced and distinct is the realisation of the nature of suffering. When this higher insight gains strength and maturity, the meditator attains the knowledge of equanimity towards all conditioned things; all mentality and corporeality. This is the heightened development of Vipassana insights in trainable individuals.
THE SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF EQUANIMOUS STATE OF HIGHER VIPASSANA INSIGHTS (1)EQUANIMOUS STATE OF MIND
nowledge of equanimity is distinguished by six characteristics. As the different stages of heightened Vipassana insights is attained, the meditator contemplates the suffering and fearsome nature of all arising phenomena. When this insight knowledge matures, it is characterised by abhorrence; he regards all things as distasteful and loathsome.
With this deeper insight he distances himself from arising and disappearing phenomena; he maintains a state of equanimity, being unmoved by fear or unpleasantness. This is the first state of higher Vipassana insights. Later, he develops a desire to discard all the aggregates, to escape from them. When he reaches the stage of equanimous insight and with the disappearance of fear, all the characteristics of the lower stages of insight knowledge, feeling distaste and disgust, desire to escape, and putting in extraordinary effort, will have also disappeared. At the elementary stage of Vipassana insights, the meditator develops intense rapture and exultation, he is highly exultant. The stage of equanimity is a superior development, thus, at this stage all the previous rapture and exultation are absent.
Thus at the higher stages of Vipassana Insight, the meditator has abandoned exultation, delight and pleasure; he dwells in an equanimous state, contemplating all arising phenomena with complete equanimity; with complete knowledge that they are non entities. With this attained deep, supramundane knowledge, there is no longer great exuberance, gladness, happiness, or delight that occurs at the beginning stage of the practice. This is absence of fear or delight with respect to the practice of Dhamma. With regard to mundane affairs too, it becomes plain how a meditator becomes free from fear and delight. He remains unperturbed with saddening or gladdening events or news, little moved by exultation, rejoicing or delight. This is freedom from fear and delight in worldly matters. (2) BALANCED ATTITUDE OF MIND The second characteristic is balanced attitude of mind, feeling neither glad over pleasant things nor sad and depressed by distressing states of affairs. One can view things, both pleasant and unpleasant, impartially and with equanimity. Having seen a visible form with the eye, the meditator remains unaffected by it, neither glad nor unhappy. However beautiful or attractive the sight is, the meditator does not feel excited and jubilant over it; however ugly or repulsive the sight is, he remains unperturbed. He maintains an equanimous attitude, mindful and clearly comprehending.
Taking note of everything seen, pleasant or unpleasant, and knowing its real impermanent, suffering and not an empowering ‘self’ nature, and developing neither liking nor aversion for it, the meditator views phenomena with impartiality. He observes with detachment in order to know the phenomenon of seeing, which is disappearing every moment. The meditator who has attained the stage of higher Vipassana insight understands through personal experience how this observation may take place. This is how the phenomenon of seeing is observed with an equanimous attitude of mind. The same thing holds true for all acts of hearing, smelling, knowing, touching, and thinking, where observation is made with equanimity just to know the respective phenomena. This ability to note arising phenomena at the six sense doors with unperturbed equanimity is a virtue of the Arahants; the ordinary worldling who has attained to the stage of higher Vipassana insight can also become accomplished in this way. Thus the meditator who has reached this stage of development, sharing some of the virtues of an Arahant, deserves high esteem and respect. Even if unknown to others, the meditator, knowing personally his own virtue, may be well pleased and gratified with his own progress and development. (3) EFFORTLESSNESS IN CONTEMPLATION The third characteristic is effortlessness in contemplation. He takes a neutral attitude with regard to the practice of contemplation.
Just as mental equilibrium is maintained in the matter of mental formations as objects of contemplation, so also a neutral, balanced attitude is taken with regard to the practice of contemplation on them. At the lower stages of development, the meditator has to make great efforts for the appearance of the objects for contemplation and similar efforts are needed to bring about contemplation on them. At this higher stage of Vipassana insight, no special effort is needed for the appearance of objects for contemplation. They appear of their own accord, one by one, followed by effortless contemplation. The act of contemplation has become a smooth, easy process. (4) DURABILITY IN MAINTAINING CONCENTRATION (Lastingness) At the beginning stages, it is not easy to keep the mind fixed on one object, even for half an hour or an hour. At the higher level, the concentration may remain constant and steady for one, two or three hours. (5) PROGRESSIVE GROWTH IN SUBTLETY The fifth characteristic is the mind getting gradually finer and subtler, and as time passes it becomes still finer and more subtle. (6) NON-DISPERSION OF MIND The last characteristic is that of non-dispersion. At the beginning levels, concentration is not strong, the mind is dispersed over many objects, but at this higher level, the mind is almost completely free of scattering or diffusion.
Let alone extraneous objects, the mind refuses to take in even those objects appropriate for contemplation. On the less developed level, the mind is directed over the various parts of the body, and thus sensation of touch is felt in the whole body. At this stage, however, dispersing the mind becomes difficult; it remains fixed only on the few objects usually contemplated on. Thus, from observing the whole body, the mind retracts and converges only on four objects -- just knowing in sequence, rising, falling, sitting and touching. Of these four objects, the sitting body may disappear, leaving only three objects to be noted. Then the rising mind falling may fade away, leaving only the touching. This cognition of touching may disappear altogether, leaving just the knowing mind, which is noted as "knowing, knowing." At such time, it will be found that whenever reflection is made on objects in which one is specially interested, the mind does not stay on them for long, it reverts back to the usual objects of contemplation. Thus, it is said to be void of dispersion. These are the signs or characteristics of equanimity which should be experienced personally by the meditator.
DEVELOPMENT OF A SPECIAL VIPASSANA INSIGHT hen knowledge of equanimity with these six characteristics has become fully perfected, there appears a special kind of knowledge which seems to occur very rapidly.
This special kind of Vipassana knowledge is that knowledge which dwells on the continual process of arising and ceasing formations (mentality and corporeality). This special Vipassana knowledge arises while taking note of one of the six consciousness, such as mind consciousness or touch consciousness, which become manifest at that particular moment. While the meditator contemplates the rapidly perishing phenomena, he perceives the nature of impermanence, or he perceives the nature of unsatisfactoriness, or the nature of non ‘self’. The meditator generally begins by observing the consciousness of touch and thinking or acts of hearing, seeing and so on; in short, contemplating on the nature of the five groups of grasping. This special knowledge leads onto the path to Nibbana.
REFLECTION OF AN ARAHANT The process of reflection in an Arahant is described in the concluding words of the Anattalakkhana Sutta: "When emancipated, the knowledge arises on reflection that freedom from defilement has been achieved, and he knows, ‘Birth is exhausted; lived is the Holy Life (of contemplation and meditation), what has to be done has been done, there is nothing more to be done.' He knows thus by reflection." This is how an Arahant reflects back on his attainment. Here it may be asked, "How does he know that birth is exhausted?" So long as there is wrong view and illusion with regard to the mental and corporeal aggregates and attachment to them as permanent, satisfactory, and an empowering ‘self’, there will be renewal of becoming in the cycle of existence. When one becomes free of wrong views and illusions, one is also free of attachment. The Arahant knows on reflection that he is free of wrong view and illusion with regard to the aggregates and that he has no more attachments for them. Therefore he knows that birth is exhausted for him. This is reflecting on the defilement which have been discarded and exhausted.
END OF DISCOURSE
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