THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
In the personality of every common worldling or putthujano, moral defilements or human passions kilesās, such as, greed which have a tendency to attachment, are in abundance. These kilesās have a craving for senses arising out of the six sense-doors, such as the sense of a beautiful sight and so on. Of all these cravings while attachment occurs in respect of all what are pleasant and agreeable, attachment to atta as a 'living entity' or 'Self' is not only basically fundamental but also most difficult to be discarded. It can neither be got rid of by one's own ordinary effort or perseverence nor dispelled by others through normal strength or exertion.
Pacceka-Buddhas were capable of extirpating their own feelings of attachment to 'Self' by means of adequate and deligent efforts with their will power without anyone's aid. However, they have no ability to eradicate the attachment to atta that clings others. To be able to wipe out the feeling of attachment to atta that lies close to the heart of others, one must have the real aptitude and knowledge to preach and convince others the essence and noble qualities of the Four Noble Truths. Pacceka-Buddhas have no such adequate knowledge of high intellect to teach others. That is the reason why they are destined to become a single Pacceka-Buddha without any disciples. A Pacceka-Buddha therefore enters Nibbāna singly. He is not omniscient and does not preach the Dhamma to mankind.
ATTACHMENT TO ATTA WILL BE ROOTED OUT ONLY IF
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS ARE FULLY UNDERSTOOD
Supreme Buddhas, the Omniscients, are endowed with better intellect than Pacceka-Buddhas. The Supreme Buddhas truly realized the Four Noble Truths on their own initiative. They could also preach and teach others to understand clearly the Dhamma relating to the Four Noble Truths. That is why they became Supreme Buddhas, the fully Enlightened Ones. Therefore, the Lord Buddha was able to deliver to the First Sermon concerning the Four Noble Truths to the five ascetics who were present along with all Celestial Beings, such as, Devas and Brahmās. The sermon is the Great Discourse on the "Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma or Righteousness", popularly known as Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. This Grate Discourse was the first Dhamma delivered by the Blessed One on the eve of Saturday night of the full moon of Wāso, exactly two months after His attainment of the Superme Enlightenment. At the close of this Great First Sermon, Ashin Kondñña, the leader of the five ascetics first became an Ariya Sotāpana. Having reached the stage of Sotāpana he has got rid of all sceptical doubts about the truth of the Dhamma and of the misconception of Sakkāya "Self" or a living entity. Nevertheless, self-pride still lingers on in his mind assuming that everything could be achieved if done or said or imagined according to his own sweet will. The rest four ascetics had not yet then realized the Special Dhamma "the awakening of higher consciousness."
The sermon on Dhammacakka Sutta came to an end in the first Watch of the night on that Full Moon Day. In the middle Watch of that Saturday night, Sātāgiri and hemāvata Devas accompanied by their one thousand warrior attendants approached the Blessed One, paid their obeisance to Him and respectfully posed ten questions. The Lord had to preach them the Hemāvata Sutta. At the end of this sermon, the dawn of enlightenment came upon them and they became Sotāpannas. Having achieved such an attainment, they were able to eliminate their clinging attachment to Atta which had beset them all throughout the whirlpool stream of past existences (Saṃsarā).
THEY ALSO ATTAINED THE SPECIAL DHAMMA
As self-pride or personal ego still had its grip on Ashin Kondañña; and as Ashin Vappa and the other three of the group of five Bhikkhus had not yet even obtained the 'pure and spotless Dhamma eye', the Blessed One went on preaching and urged them to contemplate and note on the lines of Vipassanā Dhamma. They all eventually reached the stage of Sotāpanna which had caused the removal of their attachment to atta after serious meditation with diligence. Ashin Vappa gained progressive insight on the first waning day of Waso, Ashin Bhaddiya on the second day, Shin Mahānam on the third day and Shin Asaji on the fourth day.
THE FIFTH WANING DAY OF WĀSO
The Lord Buddha then summoned the whole group of five Bhikkhus who had already gained Sotāpanna, and preached them His Second Sermon setting forth the famous Anatta Doctrine. It was on Thursday, the 5th. Waning Day of Wāso. Having heard this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, all five Bhikkhus attained Arahatship by virtue of which they were entirely free from human passions including māna, self-pride. Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta as its name implies clearly expounded the "Non-self" Anatta Doctrine as against the heretical or false views of "Self", with full explanations in a critical way.
WITHOUT THE METHOD OF CONTEMPLATING AND NOTING
The Discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa is not a lengthy piece. For instance, in the original book published by the Sixth Buddhist Council, it covered only one page. In that Sutta there was no mention of method of meditation exercise and of the manner as to how contemplation and noting should be carried on. Preaching was done there-in only in respect of the nature of Dhamma. Hence, to those who have not acquainted themselves with the method of Vipassanā exercise, it would be difficult to practise according to the right method of meditation to be able to reflect personally and appreciate the reality of Anatta as envisaged in that Sutta. It had been possible for the five ascetics to see the true light of the Anatta doctrine only because the sermon was delivered by the Lord Buddha himself and because they-the listening audience-happened to be the five ascetics of keen intellect. These five had not only been equipped with mature experience since the time of the preaching of the Dhammacakka Sutta but also had reached the stage of Sotāpanna. That is the reason for their speedy attainment of Arahatship after making progressive strides towards realization of the awakening higher consciousness of Dhamma.
AWAKENING OF HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS CANNOT BE ACHIEVED
WITHOUT CONTEMPLATING AND NOTING
During the life time of Lord Buddha people with great intellect who possessed adequate and mature paramitas (perfections) just like the five ascetics, had achieved magga-phala while listening to the sermon delivered by the Blessed One. Of course, such an achievement was gained not without deligently practising Vipassanā contemplation and noting. The special Dhamma was attained only because they had been able to devote themselves to serious meditation with deep concentration and accelerated contemplation and noting with such a speed so that it would appear as if they had not absorbed themselves in contemplation and noting with intent. Only a few who had good knowledge of adequate past perfections were capable of doing so. A good many could not possibly contemplate and note with great speed. Despite this fact, there are some idlers who will knowingly say: "If one understands the nature of anatta from the preaching made by the other, it is not necessary to practise; and one could achieve magga-phala by merely listening to preaching" with wishful thinking placing themselves on the plane of Ariya which they aspire to reach. Such concept having been entertained by the class of lazy-bones, the number of people who have so become self-made Ariyas after just listening to the sermon, will not be few. The kind of knowledge of Anatta Dhamma known by those who by merely listening to the sermon without practising Vipassanā meditation and doing contemplation and noting, is not a true personal realization but mere book-knowledge only. If magga-phala ñāṇa can be realized in the manner as stated, almost every Buddhist who knows what is Anatta doctrine, may be considered to have become an Arahat. However, as such people have not been found to be endowed with the real attributes of an holy Arahat, it is obvious that they are not the real Arahats. Referring to such improper and wrongful acts, the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw has given precise and clear instructions in this great Anattalakkahaṇa Sutta to put these people on the right path.
FULL COMPLIMENTS OF THE METHOD OF CONTEMPLATING AND NOTING
The Anattalakkahaṇa Sutta preached by the Load Buddha being the desanā describing the nature and characteristics of anatta does not imbibe the method of meditation with emphasis on contemplation and noting, the bhāvanā. This present book on Anattalakkahaṇa Sutta Dhamma however contains the full exposition of the method of contemplating and noting, and explains in detail how Anatta is reflected leading to the attainment of Nibbāna through magga-phala. It has not been so preached just wishfully without reference to the scriptural texts. Neither has it been preached prompting others to meditate without having had any personal experience in the practical exercise of Vipassanā. This has been expounded and preached to the congregation after acquiring personal experience and knowledge in meditational practice under the methodical instructions of the competent teacher and after consultations being made referring to various relevant Pāḷi Scriptures and Commentaries.
At the time when delivering his sermon to the listening audience, the Venerable Sayādawpa-yagyī had fully elaborated with his deep compassion, on the brief account of Anattalakkahaṇa Sutta preached by the Lord Buddha. This Sutta, when produced in type-written copy, was a lengthy piece comprising 420 pages in all because it was truthfully taken without omitting a word or phrase from the tape recorded originally by U Thein Han, retired Judge.U Thein Han had put up type-written copy to the Venerable Sayādawpayagyī to seek permission for printing and publication in a book from for the benefit of those who have not heard of this Sermon. The Sayādawpayagyī gave his kind permission to print and publish this Sutta only after summarising this long Sutta into a compendium having 152 pages instead of 429 pages, lest the book should become too bulky in view of the shortage of printing paper.
Indeed, the Venerable Sayādawpayagyī is an adept in amplifying what is concise and in shortening what is lengthy. He has not only abbreviated the lengthy version of the Anattalakkahaṇa Sutta and the "method of vipassanā meditation", but also the Dhammacakka Sutta Dhamma at the time of his preaching. In doing so he is capable of making them comprehensible to all those who might prefer to read or hear the Dhamma irrespective of whether it is in a concise or an unabbreviated form. This serves as a boon to all concerned.
MORE SIGNIFICANCE IS ATTACHED TO ITS NATURAL MEANING
Whenever he preaches or writes, the Venerable Sayādaw Payagyī lays more emphasis on the essence and true meaning rather than on the principles of grammer. Despite the fact that some Nissaya Sayādaw might have mentioned "Bārānasiyam", as "At Benares" putting more stress on the grammatical sense-though it may not be regarded as incorrect the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw has described is as "in the neighbourhood of Benares", in as much as Buddha had temporarily resided in Migadāvum forest near the City of Benares (or rather in the province of Benares). And also in order to fall in line with the factual truth without, of course, causing deviation from the viewpoint of the grammer. In the same manner in his "Mahā Satipatthāna Sutta New Nissaya", he had mentioned about "Kurusu" as "the Country of Kurū".
PREFERS TRUTH TO TRADITION
Although significance is said to have been given to nature, the Venerable Sayādaw Payagyī is not used to describing the meaning aloof from the point of grammer which he never fails to attach its importance. In other words, he treats grammer as it deserves giving it the role of its own significance. More than that paramount importance is given to the natural sense in giving interpretation. Hence, in his interpretation of the meaning he does not strictly follow the traditional method; and also when sitting is done, he sticks to the truth of the meaning once he has found it accurate and then expresses his candid opinion in writing, accordingly. This is clearly evident from his writings and expressions given in the first Volume of the "Method of Practising Vipassanā Meditation" in the chapter relating to "Sīla" (moral conduct) at pages 13 to 23. In that chapter though some of the ancient texts had stated as amounting to "repaying the debt" when referring to the use of four main requisites needed for a monk, namely, dwelling-place (monastery), robes, food and medicine, he had refuted the said statement as being erroneous citing concrete examples in support. Moreover, in this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta Dhamma at page 10 of the Myanmar version, he had expressed his opinion as follows:
In this regard, the teachers of the old days had explained the meaning of the word 'Abādaya' as 'pain' in Myanmar. This explanation appears wrong from the point of view of grammer and of its intrinsic meaning. The reason being, the word 'Abādaya' with the syllable 'a' prefixed to it, cannot be interpreted and spoken as 'pain'. It only conveys the meaning as 'ill-treating'. The meaning 'injury' for the word 'ābāda' has therefore been rendered in accordance with the Myanmar terminology currently in use. It is so interpreted not because it has been preached as 'likely to cause pain'. As such, the meaning referring to the word 'ābādāya' as 'pain' is regarded as unrealistic particulary because it is not only contrary to the innate meaning of 'bāda' which conveys the meaning of 'ill-treating', but also go out of tune with the principles of grammer. Furthermore, the material body or the rūpa as well as saññā, Saṅkhāra and viññāṇa, do not have the characteristic of 'pain', etc., etc.
SEEMINGLY EASY BUT DIFFICULT
The Dhamma relating to Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta is in fact, very familiar to all Buddhists who get it by heart, and is often at the tip of their tongue. Whenever any accident happens, such interjections are used to be casually muttered by a person all of a sudden invoking his mindfulness of the Dhamma. Such being the case, it might be considered as the Dhamma which is generally known and understood. Undoubtedly, referring to this statement, the Dhamma has been known through hearsay or book knowledge; but in reality it is a difficult Dhamma to be truthfully grasped though seemingly easy. Among these, the Dhamma on "Anatta" is more difficult and profound. For this reason, the Blessed One had to face very serious opposition from such persons as Saccaka Paribbājako (wandering religious mendicant) and Baka Brahmā who entertained the diametrically opposite view of Atta.
Prior to the preachings made by the Buddha, this Anatta Dhamma not being clearly understood, was considered as closely related to Atta connected with rūpa and nāma. As against the wrong belief in Atta in respect of rūpa and nāma, the Lord Buddha had elucidated these two-the physical and mental phenomena-as truly "Anatta". It is most difficult to preach this Dhamma convincingly to show that it is "Anatta" in reality, to make these persons realize the truth, since Atta has been firmly rooted in them throughout the samsarā, the round of existence. If this Anatta Dhamma could be easily known without difficulty, there would be even no need for the appearence of a Buddha, the Enlightened One. Nor would it be required for the Buddha's disciples like the venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw to preach and write this kind of Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta with great pains. The relentless efforts that have to be made to elucidate this Dhamma evidently stand witness to the quality of this deeply profound doctrine. Even among the heretics, exceptionally few persons really understand what is "Self" or "Atta" far less "Anatta Dhamma". The "Thanks-Worthy" Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw has lucidly explained the Anatta Doctrine in this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta to make those persons who entertain a wrong conception of this Dhamma to be able to tread on the right track.
SHOULD NOT UNDERESTIMATE
The believers in Paramattha who care more for Abhidhammā, the Paramattha desanā, are generally inclined to look upon sutta-desanā with underestimation. They generally assume it to be quite easy too. As all Buddha's desanās or teachings were preached with Superme Wisdom after Enlightenment, it might not be within easy comprehension by common worldlings with ordinary knowledge. If both the nature of common usage and Abhidhammā become involved in Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, the exponents of Paramattha may have to give up not knowing distinguishingly the source from which the terminology is derived wavering whether the derivation is from Abhidhammā or from Sutta Dhamma.
Abhidhammā Desanā has stated that there is no sensation of suffering (dukkha) and of pleasure (sukha) at the moment of seeing, hearing, and knowing the taste, and that only the neutral sensation (upekkhā) is present. However, according to Sutta Desanā, all sensations arising out of the six sense-doors at the moment of seeing, hearing, etc, should be contemplated and noted in respect of all three Vedanās, viz; whether pleasurable (sukha), or suffering and unpleasantness (dukkha), or neutral feeling. When such a controversial view arises, it is extremely difficult to draw a line and form an opinion so as not to contradict the expression contained in both Abhidhammā and Sutta, Such difficulties may arise in Sutta desanā which the Paramattha believers hold in low estimation. This sort of difficulty has been found to have been competently dealt with by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw Payagyī in the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta Dhamma at page 34 (of the Myanmar version) reconciling the two divergent views without any contradiction.
COMMON USAGE OR TERMINOLOGY IS NOT EASY
Because of the numerous display of common usages, the Sutta Desanā has been given the name of Desanā of Common Usages, by the people of the present day Sāsanā. To make this Desanā of Common Usage to be understood methodically various texts of grammer have been compiled. Considering this fact, it can be clearly known that the usage of common terminology is not at all easy. Pakokku Aletaik sayādaw U Paññā in the course of his explanation given in connection with the subject of grammer while teaching the famous Tīkā, had once stated, "One can be fairly conversant with Abhidhammā in three years time of his constant study whereas he cannot possibly become a competent grammarian though he may have seriously devoted himself to the study of grammatical texts for ten years in succession." The common terminology used relating to grammer is merely derived and adopted from the vocal sound commonly spoken by people of different races whose languages may be quite different from one another depending upon the places where they reside. Dialectic differences may also occur according to times and hence, the common usages may vary or alter as time goes on gradually. Therefore, Texts such as, Vohāra Dīpanī have to be published.
To the extent the Vohāra or the commonly used grammatical terms is difficult, the Vohāra desanā which is Suttam desanā is extremely difficult. Now that over 2500 years have elapsed since the Dhamma have been personally preached by the Buddha Himself, and it has been ages ago. As such, in some of the expressions, the Pāḷi usages and Myanmar usages have become different from one another in vocabulary, grammer and synthesis. As an example, in Dighanakha Sutta called "Sabbam me nakhamati" (ma-2-165), an expression of Pāḷi sentence as spoken by Diganakha Paribbajako to the Lord Buddha, may be cited. This Pāḷi statement is quite different from the common usage and the word "Sabbam" in Pāḷi, the subject, has become an object in Myanmar language while the word 'me' has become a subject in the grammatical sense. Despite all these differences and discrepancies, the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw has been able to explain the usages in explicit terms in this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta Dhamma.
I HAPPENED TO RECOLLECT
It was at the time when I first arrived at Wetlet Masoyein Monastery. The Venerable "Shwezedi" Sayādaw Payagyī was then at Wetlet town where he had visited to deliver a sermon. While conversing with Sayādawgyī, I happened to ask him; "Were there such a thing as uccheda, the doctrine of extinction of existence after death, and Nibbāna, which has a special feature; and whether these two might be construed as being the same?". To this query the Sayādaw Payagyī replied, "Of course, there is Nibbāna has its own quality and attributes. How could it be without any speciality?" As the conversation had ended abruptly. I have no chance of following up with a question as: "What is the kind of its special characteristic?" The Sayādaw Payagyī might have forgotten this insignificant episode. However, when I was reading through this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, I happened to recollect the said old-time conversation as I came upon the special explanation relating to Uccheda, the belief that there is no future existence and Nibbāna. In this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta Dhamma at pages 56 of Myanmar version, clarification has been made by the Sayādaw Payagyī elucidating the distinguishing features between Ucchedadiṭṭhi, a wrong belief that nothing remains after death and the existence of a being is completely annihilated, and Nibbāna which has the peculiar characteristics quite different from Uccheda. The believers of this false belief have erroneously thought that the annihilation of existance and Nibbāna are the same. This concept is entirely wrong. The two are, in fact, entirely different.
NO FUTURE EXISTENCE
There is something which ought to be known regarding Ucchedadiṭṭhi. About the year 1333 M.E, I managed to convene a congregation for preaching sermons on Satipatthāna Dhamma after inviting the Mahāsī Dhammakatthikas U Samvara and U Zawtika to enable my relatives and friends of my own native village to have the benefit of hearing the sermon. I had arranged for delivering a sermon at Inchaung village where many of my relatives were then residing. At this congregation, one Maung Kyi was present among the listening audience. This man being a leader of the Red Flag Communist Party, was a staunch believer in the doctrine of no new life after the present life existence. It seemed that he had come over to join the congregation sponsored by me out of sheer courtesy as he happened to be one of my relatives. U Samvara and the other preacher had delivered their sermons bearing in mind the mental attitude of that person. Since, the preaching made having had some sort of bearing on him, the listening audience comprising the village folks were apparently interested. As this man was asked to assume the role of a stand-by supporter at the time of delivering the Dhamma, there was no wonder that people got interested knowing him well as a person who had held a wrong belief in "No future existence". The next day, early in the morning, Maung Kyi appeared at the house where I was invited for a meal offered by a donor, an alms-giver. On the said occasion. Maung Kyi told me "Reverend Sir, I accepted the point of Dhamma touched upon by U Samvara on the previous night, but please do not take it amiss that I have become a convert a believer in the doctrine of Nāma. Since you all Buddhists have believed in the next existances, you are performing meritorious deeds with all your cravings for existence. On our part, not having entertained such a belief, we have no craving whatsoever for existence. We have extinguished all such clinging attachment to existence. "Then, I was perforce to remark as "This would depend on one's own view. According to Buddha Sāsanā, desire to cling to existence will only cause or be rooted out when one becomes an Arahat. Without being actually devoid of craving instincts for existence if one takes it for granted that existence completely annihilated after demise, he will go down to Niraya, the Nether World, in the next existence after passing away from this life existence with this false belief of Uccheda stuck in his mind on the eve of his death, and with this consciousness, he would die. This is exactly in accordance with what the Lord Buddha has preached".
Although Maung Kyi had severed his ties with his "life existence", his wife not being able to do so, started making preparations for novitiating her grown-up children into priesthood. Plunged in his bigotry Maung Kyi then said to his wife, "You need not do anything in my favour for my next existence. If you prefer to perform the pabbajja mingalā (ordination) by novitiating the children into priesthood, you may do so on your own. Only when the embryo sāmaṇera is to be escorted to the monastery, I cannot possibly take the role of a benefactor by carrying the big begging bowl and the fan". In retaliation to this statement made by Maung Kyi, his wife respond "Without the benefactor (donor), I cannot lead the would-be sāmaṇera. If you cannot act as a donor (benefactor), I will invariably have to get another benefactor on hire and carry on with the performance of the necessary religious rites". Having heard this retort, Maung Kyi, the great Believer of Uccheda Doctrine became very much perturbed and fidgety, and not being able to tolerate or connive at the presence of a hired benefactor in his place, he was said to have been put in a dilemma. I have heard of this incident from the lay devotees of the village.
I am fully confident that going through this great Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta Dhamma, will add to enhance the treasures of faith and bring about much benefit to all reading public as had been similarly derived by them after they had read other Dhammas preached by the illustrious Mahāsī Sayādaw Payagyī.
Wetlet-Masoyein U Teiktha
U Min Swe (MIN KYAW THU)
Buddha Sāsanā Nuggaha Organization
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the First Waxing day of Nayone 1325 M.E.)
Reverence to that Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Supremely Enlightened.
The series of lectures on the Hemāvata Sutta which followed our discourses on the Dhammacakka Sutta came to an end on the full moon day of Kasone. From today we will begin our discourses on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta which has come into its term, being the third in these quence of the Discourses given by the Buddha. It is most essential to have a full understanding of this Sutta as well, since it may be said that this Sutta is a compendium of the Teachings of the Buddha.
All teachings or beliefs outside of the Buddha's Dispensation fall under the category of beliefs in a self, Atta. They hold to the view that there is such a thing as a soul, a living entity. They believe that this soul or living entity actually resides in all living creatures, namely, men, Deva or animals such as cattle, buffaloes, dogs etc.
In the midst of the world holding fast to such notions of Self or Soul the Blessed One had declared, "Atta, soul or living entity is not a reality; it is only a conventional nomenclature. What really exists, in ultimate sense, is a continuous flux of material and mental processes, an impersonal phenomena."
Thus, it is essential to understand thoroughly and comprehensively, this doctrine of Anatta, the doctrine of Impersonality propounded by the Buddha. The doctrine of Anatta had already been dealt with by the Buddha while elaborating of the Four Noble Truths during the course of teaching the Dhammacakka Sutta. At the time of teaching the Hemāvata Sutta also, this doctrine of Anatta was expounded when the Blessed One explained that 'with the arising of six bases, (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind) there arises a being'. The doctrine of Anatta was again brought forth clearly and comprehensively in this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta. Having in view, then, the importance of this Sutta and the fact that it is its turn to receive our attention, being the third discourse given by the Blessed One, we propose to give our series of lectures on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta and starting from today.
THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SUTTA
The introduction to the Sutta was recorded by the Elders of the First Council in the Khandā Vagga Samyutta Pāḷi Canon in these words.
Evam me sutam. Ekam samayam Bhagavā Baranasiyam viharati Isipattane Migadāye. Tatra kho bhagavā pañcavaggiye bhikkhu āmantesi, 'Bhikkhavo' ti. Bhadante ti te Bhikkhu Bhagavato paccassosum. Bhagavā etadavoca.- - -
"I, Ānandā, have heard thus," began the Venerable Ānandā in answer to the questions of the Venerable Mahā Kassapa who asked him where the Sutta was taught by whom and to whom. He continued, "At one time, the most Exalted One was staying at the pleasance of Isipatanan, the deer sanctuary in the township of Vārānasi."
DATE OF THE DISCOURSE
The Dhammacakka Sutta, the first sermon, was delivered in the evening of full moon day of Wāso, 2552 years ago counted back from the Myanmar era of 1325. At the time of the first Discourse, only one of the Group of five Bhikkhus, namely the Venerable Kondañña attained the first stage of the Higher Knowledge the Sotāpanna, a Stream winner. Having fully penetrated into all aspects of the Dhamma, with firmly established confidence and unshakeable faith in the Teaching of the Buddha, he had sought and gained admission into the Order of the Buddha. The remaining four Bhikkhus, the Venerable Vappa, the Venerable Bhaddiya, the Venerable Mahānam and the Venerable Assaji had not yet become accomplished in the Higher Knowledge of the Noble path and Fruition. The Blessed One, therefore, urged them to engage themselves in the strenuous practice of Dhamma under his personal guidance. They did not go out even for alms round. The Blessed One himself also stayed in monastery constantly without going out for alms food in order to attend to them and assist them in removing the obstacles, hindrances and impurities that arise in the course of meditation practices. Thus instructed and guided by the Blessed One and striving arduously and incessantly the Venerable Vappa attained the path and Fruition and became a Stream Winner on the first waning day of Wāso; the Venerable Bhaddhiya attained the path and Fruition on the 2nd, the Venerable Māhānam on the 3rd and the Venerable Assaji on the 4th respectively, and each of them became a Stream Winner.
We had already elaborately dealt with the account of their attainments in the concluding portions of the Dhammacakka Sutta Discourses. We had stated there in that the four Venerable Bhikkhus were not accomplished yet to attain the Higher Knowledge by just listening to the Discourse; they still had to strive for it and therefore, the Blessed One required them to engage themselves strenuously in the practice of the Dhamma. In view of this fact, we had warned in the last portion of our Discourse on the Dhammacakka Sutta, not to be led astray by the wrong doctrine, which asserts in a very irresponsible manner, "that the status of Stream Winner could be attained by just listening to the Discourse; no effort is needed for the practice of the Vipassanā meditation."
The Commentaries say that after all the five bhikkhus had become Stream-winners and received ordination as members of the Buddha's Order, the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was taught on the 5th waning day of Wāso. Thus, "at one time" in the introduction means the 5th waning day of Wāso, while the Blessed One was still staying in the deer Sanctuary near the town of Vārānasi.
"At that time, when the Blessed One was staying in the deer sanctuary in the township of Vārānasi, the Blessed One addressed the group of five bhikkhus, 'Oh, Bhikkhus' and the group of five Bhikkhus answered, 'Revered Sir.' Then the Blessed One taught the Dhamma which is presently to be recited."
This is the introduction given by the Venerable Ānandā in response to the question asked by the Venerable Mahā Kassapa.
The Buddha's words: First part of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
"Rūpam Bhikkhave anattā. Rupamac h'idam Bhikkhave attā abbavissa nayidam rūpam ābaahāya samvatteya; labbh-etha ca rūpe "evam me rūpam hotu, evam me rūpam mā ahosīti."
"Bhikkhus, Rūpa, the material body is not self; soul' nor a living entity."
People in general think themselves and others to be living entities with a soul or self or ego in each of them. What is taken to be a soul is called Atta in Pāḷi being derived from the Sanskrit expression Atman. This Atta is also known as Jiva, life; thus Atta conveys the concept of life, soul or living entity. Holding the view that there exists a soul or a living entity in man is known as misconception on self or wrong belief in Self, Attadiṭṭhi.
Ordinary common worldling cannot be said to be free from this wrong belief in Self. The only difference from person to person with regard to this wrong belief lies in whether it is firmly hold and whether it is manifested so plainly or not by each individual. In a person who has become accomplished in the knowledge of mental and physical phenomena (rūpa, nāma), this belief in Self may be considerably attenuated; but it cannot be said that he is completely devoid of the notion of Self. He is still liable to misconceive that it is the Soul or Self in him that is the thinker of his thoughts, the doer of his actions, the speaker of his words and the feeler of the pleasant sensations. The Vipassanā Yogī who, by taking notes of every phenomenon is, developing keen Vipassanā insight 'that there is no self, no living entity but mere physical and mental process' is free from that wrong notion of self, but only for the duration of the Vipassanā practice. As soon as he ceases taking note of rising and passing away of nāma, rūpa, the misconception of Self is likely to return to him.
In order to remove this misconception of Self and make it clear that there is no such thing as soul or living entity in the rūpa, nāma of one's own body or in the rūpa nāma of other's bodies, the Blessed One began the discourse with the pronouncement, 'Rūpam, Bhikkhave, anatta .... Material form, Bhikkhus, is not Self, soul nor living entity.'
RŪPA WHICH IS WRONGLY CONCEIVED AS ATTA
What is Rūpa, material form which is wrongly conceived and held as Atta? The following material qualities form the foundation for a material form. They are the sensitive part of the eye which enables one to see objects; the sensitive part of the ear which enables one to hear sounds; the sensitive part of the nose which enables one to smell odoures; the sensitive part of the tongue which enables one to sample the taste; the sensitive part of the body to feel the touch; the material quality of base, that is, the seat of consciousness; and the material quality of the life-principle or vital force. If we consider carefully we can see that eye consciousness arises because of the sensitive material quality of the eye; and with eye consciousness comes the concept of a living entity of Atta. Similarly, it can be understood that it is because of sensitive material qualities of the ear, nose, tongue, and body, we have the consciousness of hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. The material quality of base, which acts as the seat of consciousness is responsible for thoughts and thinking, resulting in the notion of self or living entity. The material quality of the life-principle, is the vital force which vivifies all material bodies and preserves them from decay and decomposition. This life principle, which is just a material quality, is wrongly believed to be a soul, a living entity.
In the absence of the sensitive material qualities such as the sensitive part of the eye etc., there is no such thing as soul or living entity, Consider, for instance, a wooden figure of a man which resembles a living person in appearance but is devoid of the sensitive material qualities of the sense organs that can give rise to different cognitions. Consequently such a wooden figure etc., is never mistaken for a living being with a soul or a living entity.
There arises also no notion of a soul or a living entity with respect to the body of a person who has just died; the reason being that there is no longer any sensitive material qualities such as the sensitive part of the eye etc., in that body. So long as the sensitive qualities such as the sensitive part of the eye etc., exist, other material bodies which are their co-adjuncts and concomitant with them are also wrongly conceived as Self, living entities. Such material bodies are sight which is seen, sound which is heard, odour which is smelt, and tangibility (such as Pathavi, Tejo and Vāyo) felt by the sense of touch which also recognizes indirectly moistness and fluidity of the element of Cohesion (āpo); and material qualities of sex responsible for masculinity and femininity.
Material bodies such as sight, sound, odour etc., which are concomitant with the sensitive material qualities of the eye etc are misconceived as soul or living entities when seen, heard, smelt etc.
In short, the whole material body which is co-existing with the eye etc is regarded to be a living entity. In common parlance, too, the whole body which is compounded of the material qualities is spoken of as self, soul or a living entity. The usage in the daily life of expressions such as self, or a living entity, is not utterance of falsehood but conforming to the convention of the world; but from the point of view of ultimate, absolute reality, all the material substance of the whole body are not in reality self or individual or a being, but only the aggregates or matter or material qualities. Therefore, the Blessed One had pronounced definitely and explicitly that "although individuals view the aggregates of material qualities as a living being, a living entity, in reality, it is not Atta nor soul nor a living entity but merely a physical phenomena."
But exponents of the doctrine of Self, who hold that the material substance in their body is Self, Atta, are bound to come up with the question, 'Why is it not Atta?' Therefore, the Blessed One had also provided an explanation why it is not Atta, in the following manner.
REASONS SHOWING WAY RŪPA IS NOT ATTA
"Bhikkhus, if rūpa were self, Atta, the inner core of one's own body, then rūpa would not tend to affliction or distress. And one should be able to say of rūpa, 'Let rūpa be thus (in the best of conditions); let my body not be thus (in the worst of conditions).' It should be possible to influence rūpa in this manner.
HOW RŪPA INFLICTS SUFFERING
"Were rūpa the inner core of one's body, or Self, it should not cause suffering," But actually rūpa is imposing suffering in this manner: it does not remain youthful and vigorous; it distresses by growing old and by decaying; it distresses by dying; Without rūpa, one would be free from afflictions of getting grey in hairs, of fallen teeth, bent hunch back, deafness, poor eye-sight, wrinkled skin infirmity. It is therefore, rūpa which is inflicting these sufferings.
Again, because of one's rūpa, one is trouble with sore-eye, earache, tooth-ache, back-ache, flatulence, feeling hot, cold, painful and itching; and with diseases of blood, skin, stomach, urine or with high blood pressure etc. These ailments arise because of rūpa through which they make their manifestations. We suffer from hunger and thirst because of rūpa; and because of it, we are subjected to attacks by mosquitoes, insects or afflictions by other oppressors. Suffering in the states of miseries and woes are also due to rūpa. In short, one suffers from all these various ailments and afflictions because of rūpa. It is, therefore, rūpa whose function it is to bring about distress in one's body, that is imposing and inflicting suffering on one.
In addition, rūpa is responsible for the phenomenon of death in human existence. When the material qualities in the body undergo deterioration and decay, death occurs. It may, therefore, be said that rūpa inflicts suffering by causing death.
Thus we can reflect that if rūpa were self, it would not inflict us with sufferings of old age, disease and death. One usually causes sufferings to others but not on oneself. Therefore, if rūpa were self, or the inner core of the body, it should not inflict suffering on itself by bringing about old age etc.
Furthermore, even before the onset of old age, disease and death, rūpa is constantly subjecting one to various distresses. A young person, although free from ailments and enjoying good health, cannot remain long in any of the body postures such as sitting, standing or walking; he has to change his postures quite often. It is within the experience of all of us that we cannot remain for long, as we wish, in anyone body posture. We find it difficult to remain seated for half an hour or one hour without changing posture; or to lie down for two or three hours. Constant changing of postures is necessitated by feelings of hotness or tiredness in the limbs after a certain time in one position. All these distresses arise because of rūpa; in other words, it is rūpa that is inflicting these distresses.
Thus one may reflect that if rūpa were self, it would not impose these sufferings on one.
(Translator's remark: The last three lines on page of the Discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw and the whole of pages 10 & 11 are left out from translation into English as the said portions deal merely with discussion on translation of the Pāḷi word 'Ābādhāya' into Myanmar.)
RŪPA IS NOT SUBJECT TO ONE'S WILL
Furthermore, it is stated, "If rūpa were self, the inner core, it should be possible to say of rūpa," let my rūpa be thus (in the best of conditions), let my rūpa not be thus (in the worst of conditions). Truly, one should be able to exercise one's will on rūpa if it were one's self or Atta. All beings desire to have their material body always youthful and healthy in appearance, to keep it away from old age, illness and deterioration resulting in death. But the material body is never obliging; it refuses to be subject to one's will. Its fresh youthfulness fades into aged debility, its robust health declines, against one's will, resulting in illness and disease and finally in dissolution and death. Thus rūpa is not amenable to one's control, not manageable according to one's wish. The Blessed One pointed out, therefore, that rūpa is not one's Self, the inner core of one's body.
Let us briefly restate the meaning of the Pāḷi passage quoted above: Bhikkhus, rūpa is not Self; if it were Self, it would not inflict suffering. And it should be possible to say of rūpa, "Let rūpa be thus (in the best of conditions), let rūpa not be thus (in the worst of conditions).
If rūpa were self, the inner core, there would be no infliction of suffering on oneself, and it should be possible to subject it to one's will. While others may not be amenable to one's control, it should be possible to manage oneself as one desires. But the fact of the matter is that rūpa is not Self, not one's inner core. Hence, it inflicts suffering on one and refuses to be controlled. The Blessed One continued to further explain this fact.
DIRECT EVIDENCE OF HOW RŪPA IS NOT ATTA
Yasma ca kho, Bhikkhave, rūpam anttā, tasmā rūpam ābādhāya samvattati, na ca labbhati rūpe'evam me rūpam hotu, evam me rūpam ma ahosī'ti.
"Bhikkhus, as a matter of fact, rūpa is not self; since it is not self (not inner substance), it tends to affliction and distress. And it is not possible to say of rūpa. 'Let it be thus (in the best of conditions), let it not be thus (in the worst of conditions)." It is not possible to influence and manage the rūpa in this manner.
In reality, rūpa is not self, not one's inner core. Hence, rūpa oppresses with old age, disease etc. Furthermore, it is not amenable to one's management and control. To reiterate: In reality rūpa is not self, not one's inner core. Since it is not self, this rūpa tends to affliction and distress. It is not possible to manage and control rūpa by instructing, 'Let it be thus (in the best of conditions), let it not be thus (in the worst of conditions).
(Translator's remark: Pages 13 and the first five lines on pages 15 of the Myanmar version are left out, not translated into English for similar reasons as stated above.)
JIVA ATTA AND PARAMA ATTA
Believers in Atta enunciate Atta to be of two kinds: Jiva atta and Parama atta. According to them, each individual creature, whether man, Deva, or animal has a self, and inner soul or substance called Jiva atta. This soul or living entity is believed to be created by God. But some believers hold that these individual Jiva atta are small segments of Atta which have emanated from the big Atta of the God.
Parama atta is the big Atta of the God who has created the world together with all the creatures in it. According to some believers, this big Atta of the God permeates the whole world, but others say it lies in the Heavenly Abode. These ideas of small Self and big Self are, of course, all imaginary beliefs, mere speculation.
Nobody has met or seen the God which is the embodiment of Parama atta. Belief in creation by God is also an imaginary, speculative belief, which had existed long before the appearance of the enlightened Buddha. This is clear from the eulogy on Baka Brahmā.
EULOGY ON BAKA BRAHMĀ
At one time, the Blessed One went to the realm of the Brahmās for the purpose of clearing up the wrong views held by the great Brahmā Baka. On arrival there, the great Brahmā Baka welcomed the Blessed One to his realm in praise of which he spoke thus: "Welcome, the Venerable Gotama; your coming is good coming although you have taken a long time to do so. This Brahmā land is permanent, stable, everlasting, perfect in every way. And so no one dies or passes away from here."
For this utterance, the Blessed One rebuked the Brahmā Baka in these words: Oh, Brahmās, how ignorant is Brahma Baka! In ignorance, he describes his impermanent realm to be permanent and stable."
Upon this, one of the followers of Brahmā Baka said in indignant protest, "Bhikkhu Gotama, Do not rebuke Brahmā Baka, do not rebuke him. This Brahmā Baka is a great Brahmā, chief of the Brahmās, conqueror over all; Invincible, he sees all; wielding power and authority over every creature; maker of the world, creator of the whole world, the noblest person; One who assigns to each, king, Brahmin, men, Deva, animals etc., his respective station in this world; accomplished in attainments, the father of all the past and future beings, "thus praising the virtues of Brahmā Baka."
In the Brahmajāla Sutta where origin of the wrong view of permanency of certain individual was explained, the Buddha had given a similar account of the Brahmā.
ORIGIN OF THE BELIEF IN CREATION
After the previous world has perished away, there was a time when a new world began evolving. The first Brahma who made his appearance then thought and believed thus: "I am a Brahmā, a great Brahmā, a conqueror invincible by any one, who can see everything, all mighty to have every wish fulfilled, a Lord, a maker, a creator, the noblest of all, one who assigns to each his station. Accomplished in attainments, the father of all the past and the future beings.
The Brahmās who had made their appearance later in the realm of the Brahmās also thought and believed likewise. Of those Brahmās, who had passed away from the realm of Brahmās to be reborn in the human world, there were some who could recall their past existence in the Brahmā land. These persons boldly announced that, "the great Brahmā created the beings in the world. The Creator himself, the Great Brahmā, is permanent, eternal; the creatures he has created, however, do not last permanently; they die and pass away." These bold announcements, as their personal experience, were believed and accepted by those who heard their teachings. The Blessed One explained that this was how the notion that 'only the creators who first created things are permanent, eternal,' originated.
From the Pāḷi Canon we have just quoted, one can surmise that the so-called God who is said to have created the beings, the God who is said to be in the Heavenly abode, could be the great Brahma who first appeared in the realm of the Brahmās at the beginning of the world. We could also take it that the Parama atta is the Atta of that great Brahmā. Then it becomes clear from the Teachings of the Buddha that, 'The Parama atta of the great Brahmā is of the same kind as Jiva atta of other beings; it is just misconceiving the continuous flux of material and mental processes as Atta. Actually, there is no such thing as Atta apart from the psycho-physical phenomena; it is mere figment of imagination.'
Furthermore, the rūpa, nāma of the great Brahmā are just like the rūpa, nāma of other beings, subject to laws of impermanence. When his life span becomes exhausted, the great Brahmā also faces death and has to pass away. In reality, the great Brahmā cannot have every wish of his fulfilled; he cannot maintain the rūpas of his body according to his wish. Therefore, the rūpa of the great Brahmā is also not Atta, his inner core, self but Anatta, Non-self.
ATTACHMENT TO ATTA
But, in general, people hold on to the belief that there is an individual soul, a living entity which lasts for the duration of the life span before one dies. (This is the view held by annihilists who believe that there remains nothing after death.) But the eternalists believe that the individual soul remains undestroyed after death, lives on in other new bodies, never perishing.
According to the eternalists, 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 gets destroyed but the subtle body departs from the old body to enter into new body, then remaining eternal and never perishing. This view of the eternalists, as described in their literature, has been reproduced in full in the sub-commentary to the Visuddhi Magga.
We have given a detailed description of the various beliefs in Self together with origination in order to present more clearly the concept of Anatta, no soul, nonself. Among the general mass, who profess themselves to be Buddhists, there are many who normally believe in the existence of a soul or a living entity, even though they have not put down their beliefs in so many words in the form of literature. They hold to the view that life departs, on the death of a being, via his nose or his mouth; when conception takes place in the womb of a mother, life enters through her nose, her mouth or piercing through her abdomen. And from birth to death, it remains steadfastly in the new body. All these views relate to a belief in the existence of a soul, a living entity.
WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THE MANNER OF ATTA CLINGING
In reality, by death is meant just the cessation of psycho-physical process, the non-arising of new rūpa and nāma, after the termination of death consciousness at the moment of death. There is no such thing as the departing soul or living entity. The new becoming means the arising of new consciousness at a new site together with the physical base on which it finds its support. Just before death-consciousness terminates at the moment of death, it holds on to one of the objects namely Kamma, Kamma nimitta or Gati nimitta. Conditioned thus by the objects (held on to) at the last moment of consciousness, a new consciousness arises at a new existence. This is called re-birth or re-linking consciousness as it forms a link between the previous and the new existence.
When the re-linking consciousness passes away, it is followed by Bhavaṅga consciousness, the life-continuum, which goes on continuously throughout life as prescribed by one's previous karmic energy. When sense-objects such as sight, sound etc appear at the sense-doors, the Bhavaṅga consciousness, is replaced, for the respective moments, by eye consciousness ear-consciousness, etc. The arising of new consciousness in the new existence as conditioned by Kamma of past existence is conventionally called by common usage, migration from the old to the new existence. But in reality, there is no soul nor living entity which transmigrate from one existence to another.
WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THE MANNER OF ATTA CLINGING,
CONCEPT OF ANATTA CANNOT BE GRASPED THOROUGHLY
There are people who cannot grasp the concept of non-self, Anatta, because they do not know about the theory of Atta as explained in detail above. They think it is Atta clinging if someone holds on to the shape and form of objects. For instance, to recognise a tree as a tree, a stone as a stone; a house as a house, a monastery as a monastery, is according to them, clinging to Atta. In their view the fact of Anatta, soulessness, is clearly grasped only when concept of shape and form is transcended and replaced by perception of ultimate truth.
As a matter of fact, merely perceiving forms and shapes does not amount to Atta clinging. Neither does it mean that belief in Anatta is established once shapes and forms are no longer perceived. Recognising inanimate objects such as tree, stone, house or monastery does not constitute a belief in Anatta; it does not amount to self-theory clinging; it is merely holding on to a conventional concept.
It is only when sentient beings with life and consciousness such as men, Deva, animals etc are assumed to have a soul, a living entity, a self that it amounts to clinging to belief in self. When one assumes oneself to be a living soul, or others as living entitles, then one is holding the belief in Self. Brahmā of the Immaterial realms (Arūpa) having no material body, do not perceive themselves in the conventional shapes and forms, but the ordinary worldling Brahmā are not free from the perverted view of self, believing as they do, in the existence of self, a living entity. It is only when belief in existence of Self a living entity, is discarded and one's own body and other's body is perceived as merely psycho-physical phenomena, that knowledge of non-self, Anatta, arises. It is essential to develop true knowledge of non-self.
FOUR KINDS OF ATTA CLINGING
There are four kinds of Atta clinging arising out of belief in Self or soul.
(1) Sāmi atta clinging: Believing that there is, inside one's body, a living entity, who governs and directs every wish and action. It is this living soul which goes, stands up, sits down, sleeps, speaks whenever it wishes to.
"Sāmi atta clinging is belief in a living entity in one's body, controlling and directing as it wishes."
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was taught by the Blessed One particularly to remove this Sāmi atta clinging. Now, as this Sutta was first taught to the Group of five Bhikkhus who had become by then Stream Enterers, may it not be asked whether a Stream Enterer is still encumbered with Atta clinging?
"Stream Enterer has abandoned Atta clinging, but still holds on to Conceit."
At the stage of Sotāpanna, Stream Enterer, the fetters of Personality-belief (false view of individuality), doubts and uncertainty, and adherence to rites and rituals have been completely eradicated. But a Stream Enterer is not yet free from Asmi-māna, the I-conceit. To take pride in one's ability, one's status, "I can do; I am noble," is to hold on to the I-conceit. But a Stream Winner's conceit relates only to the genuine qualities and virtues, he actually possesses and is not false pride based on non-existing qualities and virtues.
The Stream Enterer has, therefore, to continue on with the practice of Vipassanā in order to remove the I-conceit clinging which is still a fetter for him. When Vipassanā-ñāṇa is considerably developed, this I-conceit becomes attenuated and is partially removed by the Sakadāgāmi Path. But it is not completely abolished yet. The Anāgāmi Path further weakens it, but this Path also could effect only partial removal. It is only the final Arahatta magga that could completely eradicate the I-conceit. Thus it could be regarded that the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was taught by the Blessed One in order to bring about total eradication of the I-conceit clinging which was still lingering in the persons of the Group of five Bhikkhus although they had attained the stage of Stream Enterer.
(2) Nivāsī atta clinging: Believing that there is a living entity permanently residing in one's body.
"Nivāsī atta clinging is belief in a living entity permanently residing in one's body. It is the common belief of people that they exist permanently as a living being from the moment of birth to the time of death. This is the Nivāsī atta clinging. Some hold that nothing remains after death; this is the wrong view of annihilism. Yet others believe in the wrong view of eternalism which holds that the living entity in the body remains undestroyed after death; it continued to reside in a new body in a new existence. It was with a view to remove these two wrong views together with the I-conceit clinging that the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was taught by the Blessed One, that is to say, to eradicate the I-conceit clinging which still remains fettering the Group of five Bhikkhus and other Noble Ones; and to remove the two wrong views as well as the I-conceit of the ordinary common worldlings.
So long as one clings to the belief that there exists permanently a living entity or a soul, so long would one hold that one's body is amenable to one's control as one wishes. It is understood that the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was delivered to remove not only the Sāmi atta clinging but also the Nivāsī atta clinging. Once the Sāmi atta clinging is removed, other types of Atta clinging and wrong views are simultaneously eradicated completely.
(3) Kāraka atta clinging: Believing that it is the living entity, the soul that effects every physical, vocal and mental action.
"Kāraka atta clinging is belief in a living entity that is responsible for every physical, vocal and mental action.
This Kāraka atta clinging is more concerned with Saṅkhārakkhandā, the aggregate of formations. We shall deal more fully with it when we come to the aggregate of formations.
(4) Vedaka atta clinging: Believing that all sensations whether pleasant or unpleasant.
"Vedaka atta clinging is belief in that all sensations whether pleasant or unpleasant are felt by the living entity, the self.
This Vedaka atta clinging is concerned with the Vendanakkhandā, the aggregate of feelings which we will take up fully on the coming full moon day of Nayon.
That Rūpakkhandā, the aggregate of materiality is not Self, nor a living entity, Atta but Non-self, Anatta has been adequately expounded but it still requires to explain how Yogīs engaged in Vipassanā meditation come to perceive the nature of Anatta, non-self with no power being exerciseable over it. We shall proceed with an explanation of how it comes about.
CONTEMPLATION OF NON-SELF IN THE COURSE OF VIPASSANĀ MEDITATION
Practical methods of Vipassanā meditation have been elaborately described and explained in many of our discourses published in numerous books. We need not go over them in detail; we will just give a brief description of them.
Vipassanā meditation consists of contemplation on the upādānakkhandhā, groups of grasping which manifest themselves at the moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking. For the novice-Yogī, however, it is hard to take heedful note of each and every phenomenon of seeing, hearing, etc. Therefore they have to start their practice with only a few of the most prominent objects of sensation. For instance, while sitting, the Yogī can concentrate on the nature of stiffness and resistance felt in his body and note it as 'sitting, sitting'. If the Yogī feels that it is too simple an exercise, requiring not much effort to just keep on noting, 'sitting, sitting', he can combine it with noting of another phenomenon namely, touching and note as 'sitting, touching, sitting, touching.' But the movements of rise and fall of one's abdomen will be more pronounced. Thus if one heedfully notes 'rising' as the abdomen rises, and falling, as it falls, one will come to see distinctly the phenomena of stiffening, resisting, distending, relaxing, moving which are happening inside his abdomen. These are the characteristics, function and proximate cause of Vāyodhātu, the element of motion. Such contemplation and noting is in accordance with Visuddhi Magga which states that "the nature of nāma, rūpa should be comprehended by observing its characteristics, functions and so on."
We have therefore instructed the beginners in the practice of Vipassanā to start with observing the rising and falling of the abdomen. But this exercise of noting the rising and falling alone does not comprise all that has to be done in Vipassanā meditation. While noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, any thought that may occur, has to be noted too. When feeling stiff, hot, cold or painful, the Yogī 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, 'arising, stepping forward, dropping.' If possible, all physical activities including even the opening and shutting of eye-lids should come under close observation. When there is nothing particular to take note of, Yogī's attention should revert to the rising and falling movement of the abdomen. This is then a brief description of exercises involved in the practice of Vipassanā meditation.
While thus occupied in taking note of rising, falling, sitting, and touching as they occur, the desire arises in the Yogī to change postures in order to release the pain, the aches and sensation of hotness which are developing in his bended arms and legs. The Yogī should take note of these wishes as they arise but should remain still, without immediately yielding to the temptation to stretch the limbs. He should put up with the discomforts as long as he can. If the desire to stretch his arms and legs arises once again, he should first take note of them as before without changing posture. Only when he becomes unbearably distressed with pain and aches, he should slowly stretch out his arms and legs, at the same time noting these actions carefully as 'stretching, stretching.'
During each session of meditation exercise, frequent change of posture becomes necessary due to discomforting pains and aches. With repeated adjustments of posture, the oppressive nature of the physical body becomes apparent. Despite his inclination to remain still, quietly seated, without changing position for one or two hours, it becomes evident to him that he cannot remain so, as he wishes. Then realization comes to him that Rūpa which is constantly oppressing him, afflicting him, is not Self, or soul nor living entity, but mere physical phenomenon that is occurring in accordance with its own conditions. This realization is knowledge of contemplation of Non-self.
One cannot remain very long either seated, lying down or standing. Thus realization comes too that Rūpa never obliges one with what one wishes and is unmanageable. Being uncontrollable, it is not Self nor inner substance, but mere physical phenomenon that is occurring in accordance with its own conditions. This realization, too, is knowledge of contemplation of Non-Self.
Again, being repeatedly disturbed by having to answer to the calls of nature, while engaged in meditation in sitting or lying postures, it becomes apparent that Rūpa is oppressive, it is unmanageable, not amenable to one's will, and being unmanageable, it is not Self. While contemplating on the behavior of Rūpa, its true oppressive nature becomes exposed when bodily filths such as nasal mucus, saliva, phlegm, tears, sweat etc coze out of the body. Cleanliness cannot be maintained as one desires because of this uncontrollable nature of this Rūpa, which is, therefore, obviously not Self.
In addition, Rūpa oppresses by inflicting hunger, thirst old age and disease on one. These afflictions are evident truths even to a casual observer. But there is likelihood of the notion of Self persisting in one who observes just casually. It is only by noting heedfully that Rūpa is exposed not to be Self nor a living entity but mere physical phenomenon which is happening incessantly.
These are just a few examples to indicate the Non-self nature of Rūpa. The Yogī who is actually taking note of all the phenomena comes to experience many more which establish the oppressive nature of Rūpa and make it clear how it is not amenable to one's will and how it is not Self being unmanageable.
Thus in the course of heedfully noting all the bodily actions such as rising, falling, sitting, bending, stretching and perceiving how Rūpa afflicts one, how it is unmanageable, ungovernable, the realization arises in him, through personal knowledge: "Although Rūpa in my body appears to be Self, since it oppresses me, it is not my "Self" nor my inner core; because it is not amenable to my wish, and unmanageable, it is not Self, my inner core. I have been all along in error to take it to my 'Self', my inner substance. It is really not Self being unmanageable and not subject to my will." This is the true knowledge of contemplating on Non-self.
We have fairly completely dealt with how the nature Non-self is perceived in Rūpa. We will terminate our discourse today by recapitulating the summarised translation of the Pāḷi Text and repeating the Mnemonics on Atta clinging.
THE SUMMARISED TRANSLATION OF THE PĀḶI TEXT
"Bhikkhus, Rūpa is not Self (inner substance). Were Rūpa Self, it would not tend to affliction. And it should be possible to say of Rūpa: 'Let my body be thus (in the best of conditions); let my body not be thus (in the worst of conditions)."
In reality, Rūpa is not Self. And because it is not self, it tends to affliction. Furthermore, it is not possible to say of Rūpa, 'Let my body be thus (in the best of conditions); let my body not be thus (in the worst of conditions).
MNEMONICS ON ATTA CLINGING
1. Sāmi atta clinging is belief in a living entity in one's body, controlling and directing as it wishes.
2. Nivāsī atta clinging is belief in a living entity permanently residing in one's body.
3. Kāraka atta clinging is belief in a living entity that is responsible for every physical, vocal and mental action.
4. Vedaka atta clinging is belief in that all sensations whether pleasant or unpleasant are felt by the living entity, the Self.
By virtue of having given respectful attention to this discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, may you all, by noting the phenomena of Nāma and Rūpa which is happening in the body, perceive unerringly and assuredly, the nature of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness together with unsubstantiality and thereby attain and realize soon, the Nibbāna, by means of the path and Fruition as you wish.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the First Part of the Discourse
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta
FEELING OR SENSATION IS NOT ATTA
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the Full moon day of Nayone 1325 M.E)
We began our discourses on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta on the eighth waxing day of Nayone. We had fully explained then that Rūpa, body, is just aggregate of materiality, is not self but non-self. We will deal today with Vedanakkhandhā, the aggregate of sensations to show how it is also not self. People in general like to meet with pleasant objects and enjoy pleasurable sensations; they dislike unpleasurable sensations. With regard to both the pleasant and unpleasant sensations, they assume that "I feel the sensation; I feel pleasant; I feel unpleasant. But in reality, the feeling of sensation is not self, not soul but mere unsubstantiality, Anatta. The Blessed One had explained this true fact as follows:
FEELING OR SENSATION IS NOT ATTA
"Vedanā Bhikkhave anatta, vendanā ca h'idam Bhikkhave atta abhavissa nayidam vedanā ābādhāya samvattayya labbhetha ca vedanāya evam me vedanā hotu evam me vedanā mā ahositi. Yasmā cca kho Bhikkhave vedanā anattā tasmā vedanā abadhayā samvattati na ca labbhati vedanāya evam me vedanā hotu evam me vedanā mā ahosīti."
"Bhikkhus, vedanā, feeling is not self."
There are three categories of feeling.
1. Sukkha vedanā .... .... pleasurable feeling.
2. Dukkha vedanā .... .... unpleasurable feeling.
3. Upekkhā vedanā .... .... equanimous, neutral, feeling, neither pleasurable nor painful.
The equanimous, neutral feeling is generally not prominent. the pleasurable feeling and unpleasurable feelings only are commonly known and talked about.
It is such a pleasure to feel the touch of a cool breeze or cold water when the weather is scorching hot; it is very comforting to be wrapped up to warm, woolen blankets during a cold spell; one feels so easeful after one has stretched the limbs or changed positions to relieve the tired stiff limbs. All these comfortable feelings felt through contact with pleasant objects are as Sukha vedanā pleasurable feelings, which the sentient beings assume to be self; "I feel pleasant, I feel comfortable." Therefore they go in pursuit of such pleasurable sensations.
Sufferings that arise on coming into contact with unpleasant objects, feeling hot, tired in the limbs, discomforts due to intense cold, itchiness etc are classified as Dukkha vedanā, unpleasurable sensations, which is also assumed by sentient beings to be self: "I feel painful, I feel hot, I feel itchy, I feel unpleasant." Therefore, they try to avoid contact with these unpleasant objects as much as possible. But when overtaken by disease that afflicts the body, they have to suffer the pain unavoidably.
What we have just described relate to the pleasurable and unpleasurable feelings with respect to the physical body. In addition we have to consider the feelings that arise in relation to states of mind. Thoughts on pleasant objects give rise to happiness and gladness, Sukha vedanā; while thinking about things and affairs which develop dejection, despondency, defeatism, sadness, grief, timidity and so on, give rise to unhappiness, Dukkha vedanā. Dwelling on ordinary everyday affairs gives rise to neutral, equanimous feeling, Upekkhā vedanā.
These are three kinds of feelings that are related to thoughts or imaginations. Whilst in such various states of mind, the sentient being assumes these feelings also to be Self: "I am feeling glad, happy; I am despondent, unhappy; I am not feeling happy, not unhappy, I am just equanimous."
When pleasant objects are seen, heard, smelt or tasted pleasurable feelings arise in them. These are also regarded as self: "I feel good I feel happy." Therefore they go after the good things of life, visiting places of entertainments etc, in order to enjoy good sights, good sounds; they use fragrant flowers and perfumes to enjoy pleasant aroma; they go to any length and trouble to satisfy their gustatory demands.
When unpleasant objects are seen, heard, smelt or tasted, unpleasant feelings arise in them. These are also assumed to be Self; They try, therefore, to have nothing to do with unpleasant objects.
The ordinary every day scene which one sees, hears. Indifferent sense objects, excite neither a feeling of pleasure nor feeling of unpleasantness. This is neutral equanimous feeling which is also assumed to be self. People are never content with this medial condition of neither pleasantness nor unpleasantness. They strive hard, therefore, to attain the state of pleasantness to enjoy pleasurable feelings.
DISCUSSION ON VARIANCE BETWEEN ABHIDHAMMĀ AND SUTTANTAS
According to Teachings in Abhidhammā, there is neither feeling of pleasant nor feeling of unpleasantness at the moment of seeing. hearing, smelling, tasting, but just equanimous feeling, indifference. But in the Suttantas are discourses, which describe how all these Vedanās, Sukkha, Dukkha and Upekkhā arise at all the sense doors. There are discourses exhorting to contemplate on these feelings at the moment of seeing, hearing so as to comprehend their true nature. The Mahā Tīkā of Visuddhi Magga (p.36, vol. II) has explained how sukkha, dukkha and upekkhāvedanās become evident at the moment of seeing, hearing etc in these words.
"Although it is said that eye consciousness is accompanied by equanimity, the resultant effect of unwholesome act is in the nature of suffering. The resultant effect of unwholesome act cannot be pleasant. Likewise, although it is stated that resultant effect of a wholesome feeling, pleasantness. All moral acts bear good, pleasant fruits.
This explanation in the sub-commentary is most appropriate and can be verified through practical experience. When a beautiful object is sighted, the feeling of wholesomeness and pleasantness is evident even as the object is being seen. When a terrifying, repulsive, hateful object is sighted the feeling of horror, aversion is quite evident too even while seeing the objects. These experiences are more pronounced in the case of hearing than in the case of seeing. A sweet, pleasant sound produces a sweet, pleasant effect; a terrible loud din inflicts unbearable pain on the hearer. The resultant effect is distinct still in smelling. A pleasant sensation arises in the nose as soon as a fragrant aroma is smelt, whereas a foul putrid smell at once sets up nausea resulting in head-ache and other ills. A whiff of poisonous odour may even cause death. The most pronounced effect may be experienced in the act of eating. While a tasty, delicious dish produces a delightful sensation on the tongue, the bitter taste of some medicinal pills is very unpleasant and disagreeable. A poisonous substance will cause intense suffering and may result even in death.
Thus although it is stated that eye-consciousness etc is accompanied by indifference, the immoral resultant equanimity which experiences disagreeable objects is in the nature of painful suffering; and the moral resultant equanimity which experiences agreeable objects has the nature of pleasant happiness. "These comments of the sub-commentary are most appropriate. We find therefore the Suttas mention that all three types of Vendanās are excited at the moment of seeing etc. Alternatively, as it is possible for all the three to arise at the moment of javana, impulsion, during the eye avenue thought process (cakkhudvāra vīthi). The Sutta mention all the types of vedanās to be excited when seeing etc.
VEDANĀ MISCONCEIVED AS ATTA
Therefore, enjoyment of various sense-objects, pleasant or unpleasant, every time they are seen, heard, touched or become known, constitutes vedanā. When an agreeable sensation is felt, there arises the clinging of self. "I feel pleasant." When the sensation is disagreeable, there arises the clinging of self, "I don't feel pleasant;" or, previously I have felt pleasant, but now I feel unpleasant, "When the feeling is one of indifference, self is quite pronounced too as "I feel neither pleasant nor unpleasant. I feel indifferent." This is Atta clinging with respect to vedanā, feeling, known as vedakā atta-believing that it is self or soul who enjoys the pleasant or unpleasant feelings.
Vedakā atta is belief that it is self or atta who enjoys the pleasant or unpleasant feelings.
This is how every ordinary worldling clings onto the notion of self. In Indian literature, vedanā is described as Self, Atta or having the attributes of a Self or Atta. In Myanmar, this notion does not seem to be so firmly held to be inscribed in writing. But all the same, there is the clinging to the belief that, on happy occassions, "It is I who enjoys pleasant things; when faced with difficult circumstances, "It is I who suffers." The reason for such beliefs lies in the fact that inanimate objects such as stones or sticks do not feel the heat when coming into contact with it; they do not feel cold when touched with a cold body. They feel neither happy nor sad under pleasant or unpleasant circumstances. The animate objects, the sentient beings, on the other hand, suffer or rejoice according to pleasant or unpleasant circumstances. It is assumed, therefore, that sentient beings must be endowed with an animating spirit, a living entity. It is this living entity which enjoys on moments of pleasure or suffers on occasions of distress.
In reality, vedanā, feeling is not self, a living entity but only a phenomenon that arises and vanishes as conditioned by circumstances. Therefore, the Buddha declared first and foremost the truth which must be firmly held: "Bhikkhus, vedanā, feeling is not Self," and he continued to explain the reason why vedanā is not self.
WHY VEDANĀ IS NOT SELF
"Bhikkhus, if vedanā were self, the inner substance of the body, then vedanā would not tend to afflict or distress. And one should be able to say of vedanā, "Let vedanā be thus (always pleasant); let vedanā not be thus (always unpleasant). It should be possible to influence vedanā in this manner as one wishes.
True, if vedanā were self, it should not cause distress to oneself, because it is not in the nature of things to afflict oneself, and it should be possible to mange vedanā as one wishes. These should all obtain and follow from the supposition "if vedanā were self." Furthermore, if vedanā did not tend to afflict, and if our feelings were always pleasant, as we desire and never unpleasant, then we should regard vedanā to be truly self.
This hypothetical statement 'if vedanā were self' is a form of instruction to pause and consider whether it afflicts one or not, whether vedanā can be managed to be always pleasant as one desires. On careful examination, it will become very evident that vedanā is almost always afflicting us and that it arises, not following one's wish but in accordance with its own conditioning circumstances.
Our audience here will find it within their personal experiences that vedanā afflicts them now and often; that they can never have their wish fulfilled to be always enjoying good sights, good sounds, good smells, good foods, soft touch etc. They will have discovered that unpleasant vedanās outweigh pleasant ones. That one cannot have vedanā as one wishes is because vedanā is not self nor one's inner substance. The Blessed One continued to explain why vedanā is not self:
Direct evidence of how vedanā is not Self.
"Bhikkhus, as a matter of fact, vedanā is not self. Since vedanā is not self, it tends to affliction. And it is not possible to say of vedanā, 'Let vedanā be thus (always pleasant); let vedanā not be thus (always unpleasant).
In reality, vedanā is not self. Hence it oppresses by painful feelings and mental distresses. And it is not amenable to one's control, being unable to keep it always pleasant and never unpleasant. So the Blessed One had explained that vedanā is not self, inner substance, because it ends to afflict; vedanā is not Self since it cannot be managed as one wishes.
Although it is evident that vedanā is oppressive, and ungovernable, there are some people with strong attachment to wrong belief in Self and intense craving, taṇhā, who trusting in pleasurable sensations, cling to vedanā as Self 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 VEDANĀ INFLICTS SUFFERING
There has to be constant accommodations and adjusting to conditions to maintain ourselves comfortably. One suffers discomforts of feeling stiff, cramped, hot and of aching when confined to one position for long, unless one makes necessary adjustments in body postures to relieve the pains. The oppressive nature of vedanā is quite evident even if we consider only the case of the eye which needs constant accommodation by frequent winking and occassional blinking. Without these adjustments, tiredness in the eye will become unbearable. Other organs of the body also need similar accommodations. Even with constant adjustments, vedanā under certain circumstances, is likely to inflict severe pains and suffering which may lead to serious ailment and illness resulting even in death. Many have been incidents where the afflicted person, unable to bear the oppressions of vedanā any longer, have sought the termination of their own lives by committing suicide.
The physical pains and suffering just described are not inflicted entirely by vedanā; rūpa also contributes its share of oppressions, being the original source of troubles. In the previous discourses on sufferings caused by rūpas we have described different types of feelings, which may be regarded as afflictions brought about by vedanā also.
Mental distresses and suffering on the other hand are afflictions caused solely by vedanā without the aid of rūpa. On the death of one's near and dear ones, parents, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, vedanā inflicts sorrow, grief, lamentations on the bereaved ones. Likewise, there is intense mental suffering, which may even result in death, on loss of wealth and property too. Frustration and discontent owing to one's failure to solve life's problems, separation form one's associates and friends, unfulfilled hopes and desires are other forms of oppressions inflicted by vedanā.
Even Sukha vedanā, the pleasurable sensations which are very comforting by giving happiness while they last, prove to be a source of distress later on. When they disappear after their momentary manifestation, one is left with a wistful memory and yearning for them. One has, therefore, to be constantly endeavouring in order to maintain the pleasant happy state. Thus people go in pursuit of pleasant states even risking their lives. If they happen to use illegal and immoral means in such pursuits, retribution is bound to overtake them either in this life time or in the states of woe. Thus apparently pleasant sensations, Sukha vedanā, also inflict pain and distress.
Upekkhā vedanā, equanimous feeling, like sukha vedanā, affords comfort and happiness. And like sukha vedanā, it requires constant effort to maintain its state, which of course entails cumbersome trouble and burden. Both sukha vedanā and upekkhā vedanā are not enduring being of fleeting nature, they require constant labour for their continuous arising. Such activities which invlove continuous striving, constitute saṅkhāra dukkha, suffering due to formations. This is just a brief indication of the oppressive nature of all the three vedanās, sukha, dukkha and upekkhā.
If there were no vedanā, feeling there would be no experiencing of pain or pleasure either physically or mentally. There would be freedom from suffering. Take for instance a log, a post, a stone or a lump of earth. Having no feeling they do not suffer in any way. Even when subjected to hacking, beating, crushing, burning, they remain unaffected. The continuum of nāma, rūpa which are associated with vedanā is, however, afflicted with suffering in many ways. Thus it is plain that vedanā is not self, the inner substance.
VEDANĀ IS UNMANAGEABLE
Vedanā is unmanageable and not amenable to one's will. Just consider the fact that we cannot manage things as we wish so that we may see and hear only what is pleasant; taste and smell only, what is delicious and sweet. Even when with great effort and labour, we select and pick out only what is most desirable to see, hear taste or smell, these objects are not enduring. We can enjoy them only for a short while before they vanish. Thus we cannot manage as we wish and maintain a state in which pleasant and desirable things will not disappear but remain permanently.
When pleasant objects of sight etc vanish, they are replaced by undesirable objects of sight etc which, of course, causes suffering. It has been stated earlier that unpleasant sounds are more oppressive than unpleasant sight; undesirable smell is worst than undesirable sound and undesirable taste is far worse still. Further, toxic substances when taken internally may cause even death. The worst of all is the unpleasant sense of touch. When pricked by thorns, injured by a fall, wounded by weapons, scorched by fire, afflicted by disease, the suffering which ensues is always very painful; it may be so intense as to cause clamorous outbursts of wailing, resulting even in death. These are instances of unpleasant vedanā which cannot be commended not to happen. That which is unmanageable is surely not self. Vedanā is thus not self and it is not proper to cling to it believing it to be self, one's inner substance.
What we have so far described relate only to vedanās experienced in the human world. The vedanās of the four nether worlds are far more excruciating. Animals such as cattles, buffaloes, poultry, pigs etc., have to face tormenting troubles almost all the time with no one to assist them or guard them against these afflictions. The petas have to suffer more than the animals but the denizens of hell, the Niraya states suffer the most. We cannot afford to remain smug with the thought these four nether worlds have nothing to do with us. Until and unless we have attained the stage of the Noble Ones, the Ariyās there is always the possibility that we may have to face the sufferings in the lower worlds. Thus as vedanā tends to affliction in every existence, it cannot be regarded as self or inner core of individual being of each existence. And it is not possible to manage as one wishes so that unpleasant vedanās should not arise; undesirable vedanās arise inevitably of their own accord. Mental distresses which we do not wish to arise; make their appearance all the same; which all go to prove the uncontrollable nature of vedanā. Each being has to contend with vedanās which cannot be managed as one wishes, and hence cannot be self or one's own inner substance.
"Bhikkhus, vedanā is not Self (not one's inner substance); If vedanā were self, then vedanā would not tend to afflict or distress. And it should be possible to say of vedanā, "Let vedanā be thus (always pleasant); let vedanā not be Thus (always unpleasant).
In reality vedanā is not Self, one's inner substance. Therefore it tends to afflict or distress. And it is not possible to say of vedanā "Let vedanā be thus (always pleasant); Let vedanā not be thus (always unpleasant).
As stated in this Canonical text the vedanā which is felt in one's own body tends to affliction and is not amenable to control. Hence it is very clear that vedanā is not self, not one's own inner substance. Nevertheless, ordinary common worldling clings to the belief. "It is I who suffers after experiencing happiness; it is I who enjoys as circumstances favour, after going through distresses." Clinging to belief in self is not easy to be eradicated completely. This wrong belief in self with respect to vedanā is abandoned only through personal realization of the true nature of vedanā; this realization can be brought about by contemplation on vedanā; in accordance with Satipatthāna Vipassanā practice, otherwise Middle Way, as instructed by the Blessed One. We will now deal with how this atta clinging can be discarded by contemplation on vedanā.
A brief description of Vipassanā meditation has been given in the first part of these discourses. The Yogī who keeps not of rising, falling, sitting etc., as described therein will come to notice in time uncomfortable sensations of pain, stiffness, hotness etc arising in him. He has to concentrate on these various feeling as they arise by noting 'pain, pain, stiffness, stiffness, hot hot,' etc., During the initial period when samādhi concentration is not yet strong, these distressing sensations may get more and more intensified. But the Yogī has to put up with the pains and discomforts as long as possible and keeps on noting the various sensations as they arise. As his concentration gets strengthened, the discomforting pains will gradually loss their intensity and begin to perish away. With very deep concentration they will vanish as if removed by hand even while they are being noted. These vedanās may never come back again to trouble the Yogī.
We see examples of such cessation of vedanās, when the Venerable Mahā Kassapa and others found themselves, after listening to the discourse on Bojjaṅga Sutta, relieved of aliments which had afflicted them. But prior to advent of strong concentration the Yogī will find the painful sensation in one place disappear only to rise in another form of distressing feeling at another site. When this new sensation is heedfully noted, it vanishes away to be in turn replaced by another form of sensation in yet another place. When the distressing vedanās have been observed for a considerable time to be repeatedly appearing and vanishing in this way, personal realization comes to the Yogī that "vedanā is always oppressive. Unpleasant vedanās cannot be managed not to arise; it is uncontrollable. Pleasant as well as unpleasant vedanās are not self, not one's inner substance. It is non-self." This is the true knowledge of contemplation on non-self.
The Yogī who has observed the vanishing of vedanās in the course of contemplation recalls the oppressive nature of vedanā while it lasted; he knows that vedanā has disappeared not because of his wishing nor in obedience to his command to do so, but as a result of necessary conditions brought about by concentrated mental power. It is truly ungovernable. Thus the Yogī realizes that vedanā, whether pleasant or painful is a natural process, arising of its own accord; it is not self nor inner substance but just Anatta, Non-self. Furthermore, the incessant arising and vanishing of vedanā as it is being noted also establish the fact that vedanā has the nature of Non-self.
When the Yogī reaches the stage of udayabbaya ñāṇa, knowledge of the rising and falling of compounded things, he notices that his meditational practice of taking note of phenomena is being accomplished with ease and comfort (unaccompanied) by pain or suffering; this is manifestation of a specially pleasant vedanā, which cannot be maintained for long, however much he wishes for it. When his concentration wanes and becomes weakened, the very pleasant vedanā vanishes and may not arise again in spite of his yearning for it. Then it dawns upon him that vedanā is not subjected to one's will and is ungovernable. Hence it is not self, the inner substance. The Yogī then realizes through personal experience the non-self nature of vedanā.
He also vividly sees the non-self nature of vedanā because of its dissolution on each occasion of noting. In the initial stages of meditation the Yogī suffers from physical pain of stiffness, itching, or feeling hot. Occassionally, he suffers also mental distresses of disappointment, dejection, fear or repugnance. He should keep on noting these unpleasant vedanās. He will come to know that while these unpleasant vedanās are manifesting themselves, pleasant, good sensations do not arise.
On some occasions, however, the Yogī experiences in the course of meditation very pleasant sensation both physical and mental, arising in him. For instance, when he think of happy incidents, happening feelings are evolved. He should keep on noting their pleasant vedanās as they arise. He will come to know then that while pleasant vedanās are manifesting themselves, unpleasant bad sensations do not arise.
On the whole, however, the Yogī is mostly engaged in noting the origination and dissolution of ordinary physical and mental processes such as the rise and fall of abdomen which excite neither painful nor pleasurable sensations. The Yogī notes these occasions when neutral feeling only is evident. He knows therefore, that when the equanimous feeling arises, both painful feeling and pleasurable feelings are absent. With this personal knowledge, comes the realization that vedanā is that which makes a momentary appearance, only to vanish away soon; hence it is transitory, and is not self, not ego which is to be regarded as permanent.
Here at this juncture we would like to include Dighanakha Sutta in our discourse as it affords good illustration of how such realization comes about. We must, however, first begin with an account of how the Venerable Sāriputta, who was chiefly concerned with Dighanakha Sutta, attained to higher knowledge.
THE VENERABLE SĀRIPUTTRĀ'S SEARCH FOR DHAMMA AND
HOW HE ATTAINED TO HIGHER KNOWLEDGE
Two young men Upatissa and Kolita who were later to become known as the Venerable Sāriputtrā and Venerable Moggalāna respectively became wandering ascetics under the great teacher Sañjaya, with a view to seek the Unageing, the undecaying and the Undying. They learnt all that had to be taught then by the great Sañjaya in a few day's time and came to realize that there was no substance in his teaching. Consequently the two of them left the great teacher Sañjaya and roamed about the entire Middle country in further search of Truth.
Finding it no where, they made their way back to the city of Rājagaha. It was in that city that the wanderer Upatissa came upon the Venerable Assaji, the youngest member of the Group of Five Bhikkhus, while he was going on the arms-round. Upatissa followed him closely to where he would eat his meal after the round. Upatissa prepared the seat for him and offered him drinking-water out of his water bottle. When the meal was over, Upatissa asked of the Venerable Assaji who his teacher was and what was his Master's teaching. The Venerable replied that his teacher was the Perfectly Enlightened One, the Buddha. As to the Teaching since he had just come to the Buddha's Dispensation, he knows only a little of it. Upatissa, then said, "Please tell me whatever little you know of the Teaching. I shall expand upon it myself."
Thereupon, the Venerable Assaji told the wanderer Upatissa the short summary of the Buddha's Teaching:
"Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā, tesam hetum tathāgato āha.
Te sañca yo nirodho, evam vādi Mahāsamano."
"There are these Dhammas (dukkha saccā) which have arisen because of certain causes (samudaya saccā). Our Master the Perfect One has told about these causes. And there is this state (Nibbāna) where all these Dhamma and their causes come to cessation. The Perfect One has told of this cessation too. This is the Teaching of our Master, the Blessed Noble Samaṇa."
This is then the short account of the teaching given by the Venerable Assaji. Quite brief. "There are resultants to a certain cause. Our Master had taught about these causes." But this condensed teaching was sufficient for the wanderer Upattissa to see the light of Dhamma and attain the knowledge of the first path and Fruition. He became a Stream Winner, a Sotāpana. Very speedy achievement, we must say. We find the present Yogīs showing no remarkable progress after meditation for a whole day and night. Only after seven days of hard work, they begin to get a glimpse of the physical and mental processes and the nature of impermanent, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality. Most of the Yogīs take about a month and a half to reach the stage when may be believed to have attained the knowledge of the First Path and Fruition. It may be two and half months to three months before some of them may be believed to have made similar attainments. Quite a long time, is it not?
The speedy achievement of the wanderer Upatissa may be attributed to the fact that he had already put in effort at meditation up to the stage proximate to the Path and Fruition throughout his previous existences. Since the time of these past existences, he had been in a position to achieve the knowledge of the Path and Fruition but for the vow he had taken to become a chief Disciple of a Buddha. In this last existence (when his vow of achieving the status of a chief Disciple would be fulfilled), propelled by the momentum of Vipassanā practices of his previous existences, he made a speedy passage through the sequence of vipassanā ñāṇas to attain the knowledge of the First Path and Fruition. Although the teaching imparted by the Venerable Assaji was brief, it contained the illuminating message for development of vipassanā ñāṇa.
Prior to hearing the teachings of the Buddha, it was generally held that "each individual being has living entity, an inner substance, a self, which is everlasting, permanent. This living entity is not that which has just arisen depending on causes; it has been in permanent existence, embodiment of eternity." The message given by the Venerable Assaji was to the effect that there was no such permanent entity as Atta; there was only the truth of suffering otherwise known as nāma, rūpa being the resultants of working of taṇhā, craving and clinging otherwise called the truth of origin of suffering. These resultant effects of the samudaya saccā are none other than the nāma, rūpa of one's own person which are involved in acts of seeing, hearing etc.
The wanderer Upatissa who would later become the Venerable Sāriputta realized at once that "there was only the process of incessant arising and perishing of nāma, rūpa which have been manifesting themselves in every act of knowing, touching, seeing, hearing, since the time of birth. They have arisen as a result of craving for and clinging to one's own life and existence. "It should be regarded that the wanderer Upatissa developed vipassanā ñāṇa by taking note of phenomena of change even as he was receiving the message from the Venerable Assaji and in consequence attained the knowledge of the Path and Fruition in an instant.
Having become a Stream Winner, the wanderer Upatissa enquired of the Venerable Assaji where the Blessed One was residing then. When the Venerable Assaji departed, Upatissa informed him that he would be coming to where the Buddha was. He then went back to his friend the wanderer Kolita. Who, noticing his composed features and clear countenance asked him, "Well, friend, is it possible that you have found the Deathless?" The wanderer Upatissa admitted that he had indeed found the Deathless and recounted to his friend what had happened. In doing so, he quoted the verse recited for him by the Venerable Assaji. As a consequence, the wanderer Kolita also became a Stream Winner instantly having achieved the knowledge of the First Path and Fruition.
The two of them then decided to go to the Blessed One. But first they went to the great teacher Sañcaya and invited him to come along with them to the Blessed One. The wanderer Sañcaya declined their invitation and told them, "You go along. I have no wish to come. From being a big storage tank (pot), I can't be like a small pot for carrying water, becoming a disciple to others." The two friends reminded the wanderer Sañcaya, 'The Blessed One being a truly enlightened One, people will go to him instead.' Upon this, the wanderer Sañcaya replied, "Have no worry on that account. There are more fools in this than the wise. The wise will go to the Samaṇa Gotama. The fools, who form the majority, will come to me. You go along as you wish."
Nowadays, there are many impostors and bogus religious teachers who hold such view as that of this wanderer Sañcaya. People should take great care with regard to such teachers.
Then the wanderers Upatissa and Kolita went with two hundred and fifty wanderers, who were their followers, to Blessed One. After listening to the discourse given by the Blessed One, the two hundred and fifty followers became Arahats. The two leading wanderers together with the two hundred and fifty followers who had attained Arahatship requested for admission to the Order. The Blessed One gave them the 'Ehi bhikkhu' ordination by saying, 'Come, Bhikkhu etc.' From that time the wanderer Upatissa became known as the Elder Sāriputta, and the wanderer Kolita, the Elder Mahā Moggalāna.
Having been thus ordained, they continued on with practice of meditation. The Elder Moggalāna attained Arahatship within seven days of ordination. The Elder Sāriputta was however still being engaged, up to the full moon day of Tabodwe, in Vipassanā meditation, employing the Anupadā Dhamma method of meditation (reviewing and analysing with insight all levels of consciousness step by step.)
On that full moon day of Tabodwe, the wanderer Dighanakkha, who stayed behind with the teacher Sañcaya thought thus: 'My uncle Upatissa, when he went to see other religious teachers, always came back soon. On this visit to Samaṇa Gotama, however, he had been gone for about a fortnight. And there is no news from him. What if I followed him to find out if there is any substance (In Buddha Gotama's Teaching). He, therefore, went to where the Venerable Sāriputta was to make his enquiries about the Teaching of the Blessed One.
On that day, at that time the Blessed One was staying in the Sūkarakhata Cave in the Gijjhakuta Mountains. The Venerable Sāriputta was standing behind the Blessed One gently waving a fan. The wanderer Dighanakha approached the Blessed One and after exchanging greetings said; "My theory and view is this, Master Gotama, "I have no liking for any." What he meant by this statement was that he did not like any belief; in other words, in the belief that a new existence arise after passing away from the present one. But since he said he had no liking for any (belief), it amounted to declaring that he did not like his own belief (annihilationism) too. Therefore the Blessed One asked of him, "Have you no liking too for this view of yours 'I have no liking for any!'"
To this, the wanderer Dighanakha gave an ambiguous reply, 'Even if I had a liking for this view of mine, it would be all the same.' This is in keeping with the practice of those who, holding on to wrong views, equivocate when they realize that what they believe in or what they have said, is wrong.
In order to bring out the view held by the wanderer the Blessed One said, "The belief in eternalism (sassata) is close to craving close to fetter, to relishing, to accepting, to holding tight and clinging. The belief in annihilationism is close to non craving, to non-fetter, to non-relishing, non-accepting and non-holding tight, to non-clinging." Upon this the wanderer Dighanakha remarked, 'Master Gotama commends my view; Master Gotama commends my view.'
The Blessed One, of course, was merely explaining the true virtues and faults of the views of the eternalists and annihilationists. The eternalists abhor and avoid (akusala) unmeritorious acts so that they do not have to face the evil consequences in coming existences. They engage themselves in wholesome deeds, but they relish and take delight in pleasures which would promote further rounds of existence. And the Commentary says, it is very hard to abandon the eternalist view which holds that "Atta, the living entity is indestructible; it remains stable eternally." Therefore, even those who professedly have embraced Buddhism find it difficult to accept that "there is no self, no living entity; there is only a continuous process of nāma, rūpa. For Arahats, having eradicated completely, the clinging taṇhā, there is no fresh arising of rūpa and nāma in a view existence after (the event of) Parinibbāna. The continuous process of nāma and rūpa comes to a complete cessation. "Such people would like to believe that after Parinibbāna, the Arahats continue to exist in special forms of rūpa and nāma.
The Commentary has this to say on the subject: The eternalists know that there is present life and an after-life. They know there is resultant good or bad effects consequent on good or bad deeds. They engage themselves in meritorious actions. They flinch from doing bad deeds. But they relish and take delight in pleasures which could give rise to fresh existences. Even when they get to the presence of the Blessed One or his disciples, they find it hard to abandon their belief immediately. So it may be said of the eternality belief that although its faults are not grave, it is hard to be discarded.
"On the other hand, annihilationists do not know that there is passage to the human world from other existances and there is after-life. They do not know there is resultant good or bad effect consequent on good or bad deeds. They do not engage themselves in meritorious actions. There is no fear for them to do bad deeds. They do not relish and take delight in pleasure which could give rise to fresh existences (because they do not believe in after-life). But when they get to the presence of the Blessed One or his disciples they can abandon their belief immediately. Thus with regard to the annihilationists belief, it may be said, that its faults are grave but it is easy to be discarded.
The wanderer Dighanakha could not grasp the motive behind the statement of the Blessed One. He assumed that the Blessed One was commending him for his view that there is nothing after death. Hence his remark, "Master Gotama commends my view; Master Gotama recommends my view." In order to enable him to abandon his view, the Blessed One continued to give a critical review of three beliefs current in those days: namely the eternalist view which holds 'I have a liking for all; the annihilist view which holds' 'I have no liking for any;' and a form of eternalist view which holds 'I have a liking for some, I have no liking for some.'
To summarise what the Blessed One said in this review, it was explained that 'when one holds fast to any one of the above views, there is likelihood of clash with both the other views. And when there is clash, there will be disputes which would lead to quarrels. And when there are quarrels, there is harm. "Therefore the Blessed One urged that all the three beliefs should be discarded."
Here it may be asked whether the Buddhist view that "fresh becomings arise in new existences as conditioned by one's kamma," is not the same as the eternalist view. The answer is no, not the same. By saying "fresh becomings arise in new existences as conditioned by one's kamma," the Buddhist view does not mean the transfer of Atta, living entity from one existence to another. It means only the arising of new rūpa and nāma in the new existence depending on one's previous kamma, whereas the eternalist believe that it is the Atta, living entity of the present life that migrates to a new existence. The two views are, therefore, quite different from each other.
Again, the question may arise whether the Buddhist Teaching of cessation of nāma, and rūpa after the Parinibbāna of Arahats and the non-arrival in a new existance 'is not the same as the nihilist view which holds that nothing remains after death. Here, too, there is no similarity between the two views. Because according to the annihilationists, there exists before death, a living entity which disappears after death. No special effort is needed to make it disappear; it makes its own 'exit'.
In addition, although materialists etc think that there is no Atta in their view, they believe that there remains nothing after death. Good or bad sensations are enjoyed or suffered only before death. This clinging to the notion of suffering or enjoyment before death is clinging to Atta. In Buddhist Teaching, the Arahat has, before Parinibbāna, no Atta but only a continuous process of nāma, rūpa. Suffering and enjoying the sensations is the natural phenomenon of vedanā which is manifesting itself recurrently.
After Parinibbāna, the continuous process of nāma, rūpa comes to cessation in an Arahat. But this cessation does not come about on its own. It is by virtue of Ariya Path, kilesā and kamma which are responsible for the arising of nāma, rūpa are eradicated. When the cause of their becoming, namely kilesā and kamma disappear, no new nāma and rūpa arise again. Thus there is a world of difference between cessation after Parinibbāna described, in Buddhist Teaching and the cessation envisaged by the annihilationists.
A further question may be also asked thus: "Just as the eternalists hold disputes over their beliefs with the annihilationists, is there not the possibility of disputes between those believe in non-self and those who hold on to the notion of Self, Atta. Preaching or talking about the right view does not amount to engaging in disputes; it should be regarded as promotion of the knowledge of the truth for the benefit and welfare of the mass. That 'there is only the continuity of process in the phenomenon of change from the old to the new nāma and rūpa; there is no Atta which lasts eternally, is the doctrine of non-self, otherwise the right view. Explaining the right view is not engaging in controversy, not engaging on polemics. It is just imparting the knowledge of truth to the uninstructed. Thus for those who hold the right view of non-self, there is no likelihood of involvement in disputes or controversies. We will find the Buddha's own explanation on this point when we come to the last part of this Sutta.
After exhorting how all the three wrong views of eternalism, annihilationalism, and partial eternalism should be abolished, the Blessed One went on to advise to discard clinging to the material body.
"Wanderer Dighanakha of Aggivessana clan, this material body of yours is made up of the four great primary elements, has grown out of the blood and sperm of parents, built up by the food eaten such as rice, bread etc; being subject to impermanent it has to be maintained by massages and anointing; even when sustained thus, it still dissolves and disintegrates. It must be regarded (contemplated on) as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a spike, as an abscess, as an evil, as an ailment, as alien, as destructible, as void of self: it is just non-self. When it is regarded so, there is abandonment of craving and clinging to it."
Having thus discoursed on the nature of materiality, rūpa, the Blessed One continued with the teaching on the nature of immateriality, nāma.
"Wanderer Digkanakha of Aggivessana clan, there are three kinds of vedanā in your physical make-up: pleasant feeling, painful feeling and neither painful nor pleasant feeling. When a person feels any one of the vedanās he does not feel the other two. Since each vedanā arises singly, it should be known that it is impermanent, conditionally formed (saṅkhata), dependently originated (paticcasamuppaṇa), subject to exhaustion and dissolution (khaya dhamma and vaya dhamma), fading and ceasing (virāga dhamma, nirodha dhamma). (It should be noted that by these words the Blessed One had shown how by contemplating on vedanā, one comes to know its arising depending on circumstances and its immediate exhaustion, fading and dissolution."
The Yogīs who are taking note of the phenomenon of rūpa and nāma starting from the rise and fall of abdomen as instructed by us should also concentrate on the vedanās and take note of it as 'painful, painful' when a painful feeling arises. When unhappy feelings appear, it should be noted as 'unhappy unhappy'. When a pleasant feeling arises, it should be noted as 'pleasant pleasant' when feeling happy, it should be noted as 'happy happy'. When the sensation is not vividly pleasant nor painful, attention should be directed on the rūpa or the mental state which is observable distinctly.
While thus engaged in observing the vedanās heedfully, the pleasant or the painful feelings will be perceived clearly arising recurrently and vanishing away instantly. They may be likened to raindrops falling on the uncovered body of a person walking in the rains and their disappearance. Just like the feelings which keeps falling from outside, the individual raindrops also appear as if they have fallen on the body from an external source. When this phenomenon is clearly seen, realization comes to the Yogī that these vedanās are impermanent, suffering because of incessant arising and ceasing, and is not self, nor inner core having no substantiality. As a consequence of such realization, there develops the sense of weariness, dispassion in the Yogī, which the Blessed One continued to explain.
WEARINESS THROUGH CONTEMPLATING VEDANĀ
"Wanderer Dighanakha of the Aggivessanā clan, when the meditator sees the three forms of vedanā in their characteristics of impermanence, he gets wearied of sukha vedanā which is said to be pleasant, of the dukkha vedanā which is said to be painful, distressing and of the upekkhā vedanā which is said to be neither painful nor pleasant."
These words of the Blessed One should be specially borne in mind. The purpose of the vipassaṇā meditation is to develop nibbidhā ñāṇa, the knowledge of dispassion or sense of weariness. Only when the phenomenon of incessant arising and ceasing has been personally seen and experienced, the nature of impermanence can be fully and thoroughly grasped. It is only then the senses of weariness is developed.
In this Dighanakha Sutta, no mention was made on detailed observation of the separate components of rūpa. Rūpa has to be contemplated on in the form of an aggregate. This fact should be carefully noted. From these words quoted above, it is clear that it is possible to develop sense of weariness without contemplating on separate components of rūpa as described in Abhidhammā.
Furthermore, in connection with the contemplation on nāma, immateriality, only three components of vedanā are mentioned. Nothing was said of other components-mind and mental formations. It is clear here too that taking note of only the three vedanās at the moment of their arising will develop the sense of weariness. But it must be noted that it is not just the painful feeling but all the three kinds of feeling that should be contemplated on, because it must be understood that all three vedanās are manifesting themselves.
The Blessed One then went on to explain how knowledge of the Path and Fruition and knowledge of retrospection arise after development of the sense of weariness or knowledge of contemplation of dispassion.
THE PATH AND FRUITTION THROUGH DISPASSION
When weariness has been developed or because of weariness (dispassion) his lust (craving) fades away. In other words, he becomes passion- free and the knowledge of the Ariyā Path arises in him. With the fading away of craving or by virtue of knowledge of the Ariyā Path which has caused the destruction of craving, he is liberated or emancipated. In other words, Fruition of liberation (Arahattaphala) appears when he is thus liberated, there comes the knowledge that his mind is liberated. He understands by retrospection that, "Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out; what had to be done had been done; there is nothing more of this to come."
In these words, the Blessed One described how Arahatship was attained and knowledge of retrospection developed. Then he continued on to explain that the liberated person, after attaining Arahatship, is not involved in quarrel or dispute with any one.
"Wanderer Dighanakha of Aggivessana clan, the Bhikkhu who is thus liberated from āsava or taints, does engage himself in discussions on beliefs with any one; does not get involved in disputes with any one. Although he employs the conventional expressions such as 'I, you, man, woman,' he does not wrongly hold the notion that they represent the ultimate truth. He does not quarrel with any one because he has come to know the truth and talks only about the truth." Puppha Sutta of Khandavagga Samyutta has this to say:
ONE WHO SPEAKS TRUTH DOES NOT DISPUTE
Nahan Bhikkhave lokena vivadāmi. Lokova mayā vivadāti.
Na Bhikkhave dhammavādi kenaci lokasmin vivādāti.
"Bhikkhus, I do not have disputes with the world. It is the world (in the person of wanderers Saccaka, Uttiya and Vekhasana; the young man Assalayana and the richman Upāḷi) that quarrel with me over their beliefs. Bhikkhus, one who is in the habit of speaking the truth, does not engage in arguments or disputes with any one in the world. In other words, as he speaks the truth, it cannot be said of him to be disputatious."
This passage shows that it is not only the Blessed One but any one who teaches his words of truth is not engaged in disputes when he is explaining the truth to the other party. He is only helping the uninformed to arrive at the truth in the matter of beliefs.
ARAHATSHIP FOR THE VENERABLE SĀRIPUTTRĀ
During the time the Blessed One was holding forth as described above to teach the wanderer Dighanakha how the three vedanās should be contemplated on, and how through such contemplation Arahatship may be gained, the Venerable Sāriputtrā was standing behind the Blessed One fanning him. When he hears the discourse on the three vedanās, the Venerable Sāriputtrā, already a Sotāpanna then, gained the highest knowledge of Arahatship even as he was fanning the Blessed One.
In Anupadā Sutta, his attainment of Arahatship was described thus: The Venerable Sāriputtrā went into Jhānic trance in the first stage, second stage etc. When he came out of the trance, he contemplated on the nature of the trance etc and by such contemplation, he became an Arahat on the fifteenth day of meditation. In another Sutta it is said that the Venerable Sāriputtrā himself explained that he attained Arahatship through contemplating on the physical and mental processes going on inside him. The three Suttas may be reconciled by taking that "the Venerable Sāriputtrā had gone into trances while listening to the discourse on the three vedanās of the jhānic stages and consequently attains the higher Path and Fruition.
His nephew, the wanderer Dighanakha became a Sotpānna while listening to the discourse. It must be understood here that he became a Stream Winner by virtue of Vipassanā insight developed by contemplating on the vedanās which became manifested in him while listening to the discourse.
HOLDING SĀVAKA SANNIPĀTA, A CONGREGATION OF DISCIPLES
At the end of the Discourse, the Blessed One went back from the Gijjhakuta mountains to the Veluvana monastery making the journey by means of miracles, and convened a conference of his disciples. The Venerable Sāriputtrā came to know of the conference being convened through reflective insight and make his way to the Veluvana monastery by means of miracles to attend it.
The distinguishing features of this congregation of disciples are that:
1. It is to be held on the full moon day of Tabodwe when the constellation of lion comes into prominence.
2. The Bhikkhus attending the conference must have come uninvited or unanimated by any one.
3. These attending Bhikkhus must all be Arahats endowed with six Abhiññās, super normal knowledges.
4. All these Bhikkhus must have received the 'Ehi Bhikkhu' ordination.
It is started one thousand two hundred and fifty Bhikkhus attended that conference convened by the Blessed One.
We have digressed from the original discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta by including the Dighanakha Sutta in our discussions. We shall end our discourse today by recapitulating the passage which says vedanā is not Self.
"Bhikkhus, vedanā is not Self (one's inner core), if vedanā were self, (one's inner core), vedanā would not tend to afflict or distress, and it should be possible to say of vedanā, "Let vedanā be thus (always pleasant); let vedanā not be thus (always unpleasant).
In reality, vedanā is not Self. Therefore, it tend to afflict and distress, and it is not possible to say of vedanā, "Let vedanā be thus (always pleasant); let vedanā not be thus (always unpleasant). It is not possible to influence vedanā in this manner.
MNEMONICS ON VEDAKA ATTA CLINGING
Vedaka atta clinging is belief in that all sensations whether pleasant or unpleasant are felt by the living entity, the Self.
By virtue of having given respectful attention to this Discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, may you all attain and realize soon, the Nibbāna by means of the Path and Fruition as you wish.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the second Part of the Discourse
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the new moon day of Nayone 1325 M.E.)
We began our discourses on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta on the 8th waxing day of Nayone and we have dealt with the sections on rūpa, matter, being no Self and Feeling being not Self. Today we will go on with perception being not Self.
Saññā, perception, is not Self.
"Saññā, bhikkhave, anattā, saññā ca h'idam bhikkhave attā abhavissa, nayidam saññā ābādhāya samvatteya. Labbhetha ca saññāya 'evam me saññā hotu, evam me saññā mā ahositi.' Yasmā ca kho bhikkhave saññā anattā tasmā saññā ābādhāya samvattati. Na ca labbhati saññāya evam me saññā hotu evam me saññā mā ahositi."
"Bhikkhus, Saññā, which is perception or remembering is not Self." Saññā is sixfold in kind: 1. Perception born of eye-contact. 2. Perception born of ear-contact. 3. Perception born of nose-contact. 4. Perception born of tongue-contact. 5. Perception born of body-contact. 6. Perception born of mind-contact.
People in general think, every time an object is seen, heard, touched, known, It is 'I' who perceives; objects are perceived and remembered by 'me'.
On seeing a sight, it is remembered as a man or a woman: or as an object perceived at such and such a time, at such a place, etc. Likewise, with regard to objects of sound etc. This process of perception or remembering is wrongly held to be a personal feat, as, 'It is I who remembers, it is I whose memory is excellent.' The Blessed One explained here that this view is wrong, that there is nothing individual or personal in the process of remembering; no living entity involved, just an insubstantial phenomenon; it is of the nature of non-Self.
REASONS SHOWING THAT SAÑÑĀ IS NON-SELF
To continue to explain how saññā is not self: "Bhikkhus, perceptions, saññā is not self; if perceptions were self, then it would not tend to afflict, oppress; And one should be able to wish for and manage thus: "let my perception be thus (all wholesome); "let my perception be not thus (unwholesome).
Were perceptions, a living entity, one's inner substance, there is no reason for it to inflict and oppress on one's self. It is not the usual thing to cause self injury and harm. It should be possible to manage in such a way that only good things are allowed to arise to be remembered, bad things are not allowed to arise to be remembered. But since perception is oppressing and does not yield to one's wish, it is not self.
DIRECT STATEMENT OF PERCEPTION BEING NOT SELF
"But Bhikkhus, in reality, perception is not self, so it is oppressing. And no one can wish for and manage; 'let my perception be thus (all wholesome); let my perception be not thus (unwholesome).
One can view perception from the angle of its good aspects. Cognition of things and objects by way of their characteristics is certainly very useful. So also retentive memory: remembering facts and retaining what has been acquired from learning the mundane and supra-mundane knowledges is a good function of perception, beneficial and helpful. But mental retention or recalling to mind what is sad, sorrowful, disgusting, horrible etc, from bad aspects of saññā which are distress and therefore oppressing. Some suffers from haunting memories of the departed loved ones such as sons, daughters, husbands or wives or of financial calamities that have fallen on one. These lingering memories bring about constant sorrow and consterration; only when such memories fade away, one is relieved of the sufferings. Thus saññā whose function is manifested in recognition and remembering is truly oppressing. So long as saññā is bringing back memories of bereavements and financial losses, so long will sorrow and lamentation cause intense suffering which may even result in death. This is how saññā oppresses by recalling to mind the sad experiences of the past.
Suddenly recalling in mind, during a meal time of some disgusting, repulsive object is bound to impair one's appetite. Having seen a dead body earlier in the day, one may be disturbed in sleep at night by one's retentive memories of it. Through fanciful imaginations, some may have visualised a dangerous situation which they keep on anticipating with intense suffering for themselves. Thus saññā oppress by bringing back distressing mental objects. Hence saññā is not self, but of the nature of non-self, its appearance being dependent on conditions.
Saññā cannot be manipulated as one wishes, so as to recall only those experiences which are beneficial and profitable suppressing those which will cause distress and suffering; it is unmanageable, ungovernable, not amenable to one's will. And because it is unmanageable, ungovernable, it is not self, nor a living entity, but mere insubstantiality, dependent on conditions and circumstances.
We shall repeat the Myanmar translation of the Pāḷi Text:
"Bhikkhus, perception, saññā is not self; if perception were self then it would not tend to afflict, oppress; And one should be able to wish for and manage thus: Let my perception be thus (all wholesome); let my perception be not thus (all unwholesome).
Saññā in one's own person, as stated in this text, is oppressing, unmanageable, not subject to one's will. This is obvious, therefore, that saññā is not one's self, the inner core, a living entity. But people in general find, on recalling past experiences, that there are those which are retained in memory and conclude, therefore, that, "It is 'I' who have stored these experiences in mind; it is who recalls them. The same 'I' who has stored them up has also brought them back to mind now." They cling to the belief, therefore, there is only one individual, the self, who stored up and recalls past experiences. This wrong belief arises because of lack of heedful noting at the moment of seeing, hearing, etc and because of the fact that the real nature of the phenomenon is not yet known by Vipassanā insight.
When constant arising and ceasing of the phenomenon of seeing, hearing etc., is seen as it truly is through Vipassanā insight, then realization dawns that saññā is also a natural phenomenon of constant arising and ceasing.
Here, it may be asked, in view of impermanent nature of saññā , how does recollection take place of things which were cognised and known previously? The retentivity-the retentive power of preceding saññā is handed on, passed on to the succeeding saññās. At this retentive power increases on being inherited by the succeeding generations of saññā , some people become equipped with the faculty of recalling past life. This is how the perception in the life-continuum or death-consciousness of past life ceases but arises again, with reinforced power of recalling, as the birth consciousness and life-continuum of the present life.
It is because of this handing over of retentive power by the pervious saññās to the succeeding saññās 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 experience of days gone by may re-surface sometimes. The Yogīs engaged in Satipatthāna meditation may be recalling, as his concentration gets stronger, episodes which and happened earlier in his life, in childhood etc. The Yogī should dispose them off by noting them as they appear. Remorsefuless over past mistakes, faults in words and actions may lead to worry and restlessness in the course of meditation. Worry is a form of hindrance, and it should be discarded by taking note of it. Worry and restlessness may become a great hindrance deterring progress in development of concentration and Vipassanā insight. Thus perception which recalls past incidents producing worry and fret is oppressing. For this reason, it may be taken that saññā is not self.
As explained in the pervious discourse, there are four ways of clinging to atta and saññā is concerned with three of them namely, Sāmi atta, Nivāsī atta and karaka atta.
Thinking that there is control over perception, remembering things as willed and not remembering things when there is no wish to do so, is Sāmi atta clinging, that is exercising control over the process of remembering. This Sāmi atta clinging is rejected by the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta which states that it is not possible to say of perception, "Let perception be thus (all wholesome), let perception be not thus (all unwholesome).
Thinking there is Atta, living self ever present in the body, constantly engaged in the task of remembering things, is Nivāsī atta. This type of clinging can be discarded by taking note of every mental phenomenon which makes its appearance. By doing so one perceives by one's own knowledge that the remembered things keep appearing afresh and vanishing instantly. Also by taking note of the past incidents in one's life as they reappear in the mind's door, one comes to realize that there is no such thing as permanent retentive perception. There is only recurrent phenomenon renewing itself by arising and ceasing incessantly. This realization drives home the fact that there is no permanent self, living entity, residing in one's body and doing the task of remembering, recollecting.
Thinking it is I or self which is doing the action of remembering or recollection is Karaka atta clinging and this may also be removed by meditative noting. When perception takes place of every sight or sound, the meditative noting observes its arising and vanishing. When it is thus observed that perception of sight or sound arises and vanishes, there comes the realization that perception of sight and sound is merely a recurrent mental phenomenon and not the action of any abiding self or inner substance. And in accordance with the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta; it cannot be managed in such a way that only pleasant wholesome memories persist for ever and that memories of unpleasant, unwholesome incidents fade away into oblivion. Since it is thus ungovernable, uncontrollable, realization comes to Yogī that perception is not self, living entity, but merely a natural process dependent on conditions, renewing itself incessantly and vanishing. The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was discoursed by the Blessed One specifically for the purpose of removing the Atta clinging through such personal realization of the true nature (of the khandhās).
Here question may arise what difference exists between perception at the moment of contact and heedful note-taking at the moment of occurrence according to the Satipatthāna. The answer is that there is a world of difference between the two. In fact it may be said that the two are diametrically opposed to each other in purpose of objective. Saññā perceives so as to retain every thing that is seen, heard etc, in memory so that it may be recalled. It may take in the form, shape or condition of the object observed; whereas meditative note-taking according to the Satipatthāna method is concerned just with the passing events of the nāma, rūpa so as to realize the impermanent nature, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality.
This should be sufficient elaboration on the aggregates of perception being not self. We shall go on to explaining how saṅkhāras, the aggregates of mental formations or concomitants is not self.
SAṄKHĀRAS ARE NOT SELF, THE LIVING ENTITY OF ATTA
"Saṅkharā, bhikkhave, anattā. Saṅkhāra ca h'idam bhikkhave attā abhavissamsu nayidam saṅhāra ābādhāya samvat-tayum labbhetha ca saṅhāresu evam me saṅhāra hontu evam me saṅhāra ma ahesumti. Yasmā ca kho bhikkhave saṅhāra anattā, tasmā saṅhāra abādhāya samvattati; na ca labbhati saṅhāresu evam me saṅkhāra hontu, evam me saṅkhāra mā ahesumti."
"Bhikkhus, saṅkhāras are not self."
Here, it should be noted that saṅkhāras are of two kinds: Conditioned things and Conditioning things. The conditioned things are those aggregates that have arisen through such causes as kamma (volitions activity), mind, climate (seasonal conditions) and nutriments. Immediately after the rebirth consciousness, mental and material phenomena arising as resultants of kamma spring up. Vipāka types of consciousness with its concomitants and Hadaya rūpa together with kamma produced rūpas such as eye, ear, nose, tongue and body spring up in this way. They are all conditioned things, resultant effects of kammic activities and are called resultant saṅkhāras as conditioned by kamma.
Likewise, mind produced rūpas and also resultant saṅkhāras. Physical changes involved in acts of bending, stretching, moving, going, standing, sitting, talking, smiling are examples of such resultant saṅkhāras. Being born of thoughts generated by a person, they are known as resultant saṅkhāras conditioned by mind.
With regard to mind and its concomitants, they are both mutually conditioned and conditioning and we have thus saṅkhāras as causal agents as well as saṅkhāras as resultants.
Rūpas produced by climatic conditions are resultant saṅkhāras conditioned by climatic conditions. Rūpas that arise through intake of food are resultant saṅkhāras conditioned by nutriments.
Finally all the succeeding mental states with all their concomitants are resultant saṅkhāras being dependent on the preceding mental conditions and their concomitants for their arising. All such aggregates which arise because of kamma, mind, seasonal conditions and food are resultant saṅkhāras as conditioned by their respective causes. This is summarised in the famous formula:
Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā; Sabbe saṅkhāras dukkhā--
All things conditioned by respective causes are impermanent; all things conditioned by respective cause are suffering, dukkha.
These are aggregates of nāma, rūpa which manifest themselves when seeing, hearing etc, the five groups of grasping which must be realized by Vipassanā insight as being impermanent, unsatisfactory and insubstantial. The Blessed One has exhorted in the above formula that they should be seen as such. In order to see them in such light, one must take heedful note of every arising of these aggregates as they appear. While observing them in this way, as concentration gets strengthened one becomes aware that the aggregates are arising and vanishing incessantly. In accordance with the Commentary statement, Hutvā abhavato, it is impermanent because it perishes after having arisen. And in accordance with the Commentary statement, Udayabbaya patipilanato, it is fearsome being oppressed by constant arising and perishing. This is the manner of contemplation conforming to the words of the Blessed One.
GOING AGAINST THE WORDS OF THE BLESSED ONE
There are people who are damaging and harming the Buddha's Dispensation by teaching in a way diametrically opposite to what the Buddha had taught. In the above formula of 'Sabbe saṅkhārā etc' they are teaching saṅkhārā to mean "not conditioned things as explained above, but as "activities". Thus according to them, the above formula means 'All activities are dukkha'. Hence they admonish against any kind of activity such as giving alms, keeping precepts and practising meditation. These activities will produce only dukkha. They advise, therefore, to keep the mind as it is. Such preachments find ready acceptance by uninstructed persons and by those who are not keen to put in efforts in meditation practice. It can be seen by any one, even with a limited knowledge of the teaching, that such preachments are going against the words of the Buddha. Accepting such preachments which go against the words of the Buddha amounts to rejecting the teaching of the Blessed One. Once the teaching is rejected, one will find oneself outside the dispensation of the Buddha which is a matter for serious consideration.
In this Pāḷi text, Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkha, saṅkhāra means 'conditioned things', resultants of determining conditioners and not 'activities' of 'making efforts'. To recapitulate: In Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkha, saṅkhārā means resultant aggregates produced by conditioning circumstances. It does not mean 'activities' or 'efforts' to make good deeds. All saṅkhāras as conditioned things are to be contemplated on as impermanent and suffering. It is wrong to interpret 'saṅkhārā' in this context, as meritorious activities. What is required here is to observe and note carefully all the conditioned aggregates in one's own body until their real nature is seen and dispassion developed over them.
SAṄKHĀRA IN THE CONTEXT OF THIS SUTTA
The saṅkhāras we have described so far, the conditioned things produced by kamma, mind, seasonal changes and food have no connections with the saṅkhāra mentioned in this Sutta. In the context of this Sutta, saṅkhāra means one of the five aggregates, namely, mental formations or mental activities which condition things and produce kammic efforts.
The Khandavagga Samyutta Pāḷi text gives the following definition: That which brings about physical, vocal and mental activities is saṅkhāra (of saṅkhārakkhandā). Of the five aggregates, the aggregates of matter has the quality of being changed or transformed by opposing circumstances. It cannot by itself bring about any action or change, but it has substantive mass, the actions of the saṅkhāras are manifested in its material body which then appear to be doing the action. The aggregates of sensations (vedanā) experience the sensations, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It cannot effect any action productive of results. Neither can the aggregate of perception which merely recognizes or remembers things, just like a clerk in a office records his note in the note book for future reference. The aggregate of consciousness also just knows that a sight is seen, a sound is heard, etc. It is not capable of causing any action. It is the aggregate of saṅkhāra which is responsible for physical, vocal or mental deeds such as going, standing, sitting, laying down, bending, stretching, moving, smiling, talking, thinking, seeing, hearing, etc. The wish to go, stand, sit or sleep is expressed by this saṅkhāra. All the three kinds of physical, vocal, mental activities are instigated and organized by this saṅkhāra.
To think that all these activities are carried out by one's self is to hold the wrong view of self in the saṅkhāra and is known as Kāraka atta clinging.
To think that this self, doing all the activities resides all the time as a living entity in one's body is to hold the wrong view of Nivāsī atta clinging.
Thinking that this self, living entity in one's body can act according to its wishes; that its actions are subject to its will is Sāmi atta clinging.
The saṅkhāra are held to by all these three modes of clinging. In reality, however, there is no self, no living entity to cling to but merely natural processes happening according to their own conditions and circumstances. The Blessed One, therefore, taught that saṅkhāras are not living entities that carry out these activities. From the viewpoint of common man, there obviously exists a living entity that executes the actions of going, standing, sitting etc. But the Blessed One refutes his belief by stating:
REASONS WHY SAṄKHĀRAS IS NOT SELF
"Bhikkhus, were saṅkhāras, volitional activities, self, inner core, they would not inflict and it should be possible to say of saṅkhāras, 'Let saṅkhāras be thus' (all wholesome); let saṅkhāras be not thus (unwholesome); and manageable as one wishes."
These saṅkhāras are mental states headed by cetanā, volition. There are fifty-two kinds of mental states; excepting the two states of sensation and perception, the remaining fifty mental states constitute the aggregate of mental formations, saṅkhārakkhandā. In Sutta discourses, only cetanā, the volition is enumerated as representing the saṅkhāra activities. But according to Abhidhammā, we have other mental formations such as attention (manasikāra), initial application of thought (vitakka), sustained application (vicāra), zest (pīti), greed (loba), hate (dasa), delusion (moha), non-greed, non-hate, non-delusion etc., that can produce kammic effects. These fifty kinds of mental formations are responsible for all kinds of activities. It is these fifty mental formations which instigate and direct actions such as going, standing, sitting, sleeping, bending, stretching, smilling, speaking, etc. These actions are being carried out as directed and motivated by the saṅkhāras which also instigate and direct mental activities such as thinking, seeing-consciousness, hearing-consciousness.
HOW SAṄKHĀRAS OPPRESS
The Blessed One had urged us to reflect in this way: Were saṅkhāras, which are responsible for all the actions self, the living entity, in one's self, they would not have been oppressing. Actually they are oppressing in many ways. Engaging in activities out of desire or greed, one finds oneself exhausted and distressed. Speaking something which should not be spoken, one find oneself embarassed. Doing things which should not be done one gets punished for criminal offences. One burns oneself with longing desires for which one suffers loss of appetite, loss of sleep etc. Doing evil deeds such as stealing or telling lies, one lands up in states of woe undergoing intense miseries.
Likewise, volition accompanied by hate motivates actions, vocal as well as physical, which are not wise and produce distress and suffering. Volition accompanied by delusion, conceit and wrong views leads one similarly to distress and suffering in the present life and in the states of woe. These are various ways by which saṅkhāras oppress. Were saṅkhāras self, it would not be oppressive in the manner.
SAṄKHĀRA IS NOT AMENABLE TO ONE'S WILL
Were Volitional activities, saṅkhāras, self, one's inner substance, it should be possible to arrange and organise in such a way that wholesome activities productive of beneficial results only are carried out as one wishes, and not those activities which will harm oneself. Actually it is not possible to manage their activities as one wishes. One will find oneself engaging in activities one should not do, speaking of things one should not speak of, thinking of thoughts one should not think about. In this way it could be seen that saṅkhāra is not amenable to management and control and is therefore not self, not one's inner core. And the Blessed One had, to enable one to see thus, taught directly:
"Bhikkhus, in reality, saṅkhāras are not self, not one's inner core. For this reason, they tend to inflict distress. Furthermore, it is not possible to manage and say of saṅkhāra: 'Let saṅkhāra be thus (all wholesome); let it not be thus (all unwholesome).
Volitional activities are, therefore, not self, not inner core, but of the nature of insubstantiality occurring in accordance with their own conditions and circumstances. These volitional activities, accordingly, are oppressing; how they are oppressing has been described above. Through bad companions, through defective guidance of poor teachers and through wrong attitude of mind, one gets involved in activities which one should not do, one should not speak of, nor think about. With respect to mundane affairs, one gets engaged in blame worthy actions, illegal activities and indulge in bad habits, drinking, drug taking and gambling. Also because of greed or anger, one speaks out that which should not be spoken about. Such activities result in destruction of one's prosperity, punishment by legal authorities and loss of friends and associates. From spiritual and moral standpoint, bad deeds of killing, telling lies etc produce bad results, leading even to miseries in woeful states. Thus volitional activities oppress by producing bad kamic effects.
Here we must recount a story of how unwholesome volitional activities of slandering result in dire distress.
STORY OF A PETA WHO WAS TORMENTED BY PINS AND NEEDLES
Once the Venerable Lakkhana and Venerable Moggalāna came down from the Peak of the Vultures to go round for alms-food. On their way down, the Venerable Moggalāna saw a Peta by means of his celestial eyes. He saw needles piercing and passing through the body of the Peta. Some needles entered from his head to emerge from his mouth. Some entered from the mouth and came out from the chest; some entered from the chest and left from the stomach. Some pierced through the stomach leaving from the thigh; some came in by the thigh and left by the legs. Some entered by way of the legs and left from the feet. The Peta was subjected to great suffering and was running about with intense pain.
The needles chased him whenever he ran and pierced his body. On seeing his plight, the Venerable Moggalāna reflected on the fact that he had become divested of all kammic effects that would land him in the existence of Petas. Pleased with the thought of self-liberation, he made a smile which was duly noticed by his companion the Venerable Lakkhana who asked him the cause of his smile.
The Venerable Lakkhana was not developed enough to see the Petas; he may disbelieve the story about Peta and cast doubt on the words of Moggalāna. So the Venerable Moggalāna did not tell him then what he saw of the Peta; he just told him to ask about it again when they got to the presence of the Blessed One.
After the meal and when they reached the presence of the Buddha, the Venerable Lakkhana repeated the question why the Venerable Moggalāna had made a smile as they were coming down from the vulture peak. The Venerable Moggalāna said then that he saw a Peta being inflicted with piercing needles and he smiled because he realized on reflection that he had become free from such unwholesome volitional activities.
Then the Blessed One said in admiration, "my disciples are well equipped with penetrative insight, (mind's eye). I had seen this Peta on the eve of my enlightenment while seated on the throne of wisdom. But since there was no other eye witness of him, I have not said a word about this Peta. Now that I have the Venerable Moggalāna to corroborate me, I shall tell about him."
The Blessed One said that while in human existence, that being had committed the grievous misdeed of slandering for which unwholesome saṅkhāras he had to undergo intense suffering, miseries for many lakhs and lakhs of years. Having come up from that abode, he had become this Peta to suffer for the remaining portion of the resultant saṅkhāras.
The Peta was invisible to the ordinary vision. Hence the Venerable Lakkhana did not see him. The needles that kept on piercing and pestering the Peta did not fall upon other creatures or beings. They were inflicted only on the Peta who had done unwholesome volitional activities before. This is then an example of how saṅkhāra is oppressing.
There were other Petas also visible to the Venerable Moggalāna. For example, there was the cattle slaughterer who had become a Peta chased by vultures, crows, and eagles, who attacked him with their beaks. The poor Peta was shrieking wildly and running about to escape from the merciless attacks of the birds. Then there was the bird hunter who had become a Peta in the shape of a piece of meat. He was similarly pestered by vultures crows and eagles and he was also wailing and fleeing from the attacking birds. The sheep slaughterer had no outer skin covering in his body. A bloody, messy lump of flesh, he was also target of attack by vultures, crows and eagles and he too was shrieking and fleeing from the birds. The Peta who was the pig slaughterer before had knives and two edged swords falling upon him and cutting him up. The hunter of wild animals had spears piercing him. They were all running about wildly, shrieking and bewailing. Furthermore, the Venerable Moggalāna saw Petas who were suffering because of unwholesome saṅkhāras such as torturing others and committing adultery. They serve as further examples of oppressive nature of unwholesome saṅkhāras.
The denizens of the lower worlds, creatures of the animal world, are undergoing sufferings because of unwholesome saṅkhāras which they had done in the past. In this human world, miseries due to difficulties of earning livelihood, to illness and diseases and to maltreatment by others have their origin in the past unwholesome saṅkhāras. These saṅkhāras are oppressing because they are not self, not one's inner core. It is not possible to manage so as not as to let unwholesome saṅkhāras to arise and to let only wholesome saṅkhāras to appear. This is within the personal experience of practising Yogīs. They want to develop only the Vipassanā saṅkhāras, volitional activities confined only to meditation; but they find, especially at the initial stages of meditation, undesirable distractions making their appearance. Under the guidance of loba, greed, various thoughts suggesting different procedures for meditational practices keep on arising. Other thoughts under the guidance of dosa, māna (hate and conceit) make their appearances to do this way, or that way etc. The Yogīs had to discard these distractive thoughts by noting 'liking, desiring, thinking etc.'
As stated above, all these volitional activities tend to afflict one; they are unmanageable as one wishes, therefore not self, not one's inner core, but mere insubstantiality dependent on respective conditions. They may be likened to the rain, the sun or the wind. We have nothing with the rain, no control over it. When we wish for the rain, we may not get it unless such conditions as rain, clouds, humidity wind elements etc permit. When the conditions are right, we may get rain even if we do not want it. Likewise with the sun; when covered by clouds, there is no sunshine even though we wish for it. In the absence of the covering clouds, the sun shines brightly whether we want it or not. The wind blows only when atmospheric conditions are right. When conditions are not favourable, there is no wind however much we wish for it. These external phenomena have nothing to do with us; we have no control over them. Similarly, the volitional activities are the internal phenomena over which also we have no control. They are happening in accordance with conditions and are, therefore, not self.
We shall recite again the summary of the Pāḷi text:
"Bhikkhus, saṅkhāras are not self, the inner core; were saṅkhāras volitional activities, self, inner core they would not tend to afflict and it would be possible to say of them, "Let saṅkhāras be thus (all wholesome); let saṅkhāras be not thus (all unwholesome) and controllable by one as one wishes."
In reality, however, saṅkhāras are not self, not one's inner core. For this reason, they tend to inflict distress. Furthermore, it is not possible to manage and say of saṅkhāras. 'Let saṅkhāras be thus (all wholesome); let saṅkhāras be not thus (all unwholesome) and controllable by one as one wishes.'
HOW REALIZATION OF NON-SELF COMES ABOUT
For the Yogīs constantly taking note of the phenomena of nāma, rūpa, it becomes very obvious how saṅkhāras are not amenable to will, how they are unmanageable. While contemplating on the movements of the abdomen and the bodily motions and noting them as 'rising, falling, sitting, touching etc', when stiffness arises, it has to be noted as 'stiffness, stiffness.' Then the desire to change postures follows. This desire is nothing but mental activity headed by cetanā, volition. It is cetanā which is giving silent instructions, 'Now, change the posture, change the posture.' The Yogī wants to continue on noting without changing position but because of the insistent urgings of cetanā, he changes the posture. This is an unwanted saṅkhāra.
Likewise, while noting the feelings of 'pain, heat, itchiness', posture is changed as directed by the ungovernable saṅkhāra. Again during the course of meditating, thoughts on sensual pleasures may appear. This is saṅkhāra which the Yogī does not wish for. These have to be banished by incessant noting. At the same time saṅkhāras may urge the Yogī to go and interview some one, to talk to some one, to look around here, there or to do some work. These are all undesirable saṅkhāras which rise up all the same whether one likes it or not. These are instances of unmanageable, uncontrollable nature of saṅkhāra. They should not be welcomed but discarded by heedful noting.
'To think that there is a manageable, controllable self, inner core, is to hold to Sāmi atta clinging.' The Yogī who takes notes of the processes of nāma, rūpa as they take place, notices clearly that what one desires does not happen, what is not desired is happening. In this way he can get rid of the Sāmi atta clinging. As he observes the processes of origination and dissolution taking place in quick succession, and sees that which is desired to be maintained getting dissolved, Sāmi atta clinging abandoned. Nothing is seen to remain stable; everything is dissolving, perishing. In this way, the Nivāsī atta clinging which believes in permanent existence of self or inner substance can be banished too.
'Belief in permanent existence of self, a living entity in one's body is called Nivāsī atta clinging.'
Then the Yogī perceives also that any event takes place only when various factors concerned with the event come together to fulfill the necessary conditions for its happening. Take for instance the arising of eye-consciousness. There must be the eye, the object of sight, as well as sufficient light. Then there must be the intention to look. When there is the eye and the object of sight, very clearly visible, the act of seeing is bound to ensue. Likewise a sound is heard, only when there is ear, sound, obstructionless space and intention or bending the mind, to hear. When there is ear and a clearly audible sound, act of hearing will surely take place. An act of touching will take place when there is object, tactile body, bodily impression and intention to touch.
Seeing that respective resultant events of seeing, hearing, touching take place when corresponding factors necessary for the arising of the event have come together the Yogī decides that no self nor living entity capable of causing to see, hear or touch exists, He thus banishes the Kāraka atta clinging which holds there is self or living entity masterminding over seeing all kinds of activities. In order to remove this Kāraka atta clinging, the Blessed One had taught that saṅkhāra, volitional activities are not self, living entity. We have fairly fully dealt with the exposition on saṅkhāra not being self. We shall end the discourse here for today.
By virtue of having given respectful attention to this discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, may you all attain and realize soon, the Nibbāna by means of the Path and Fruition as you wish.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the Third Part of the Discourse on
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the full moon day of Wāso 1325 M.E.)
Today is the full moon day of the Wāso, a propitious day, a holy day. A year ago today we began giving our discourse on the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta after which we have continued discoursing on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta sequentially. As to the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, we have so far dealt with the account of how saṅkhāra is not self. Today we shall discuss how consciousness is not self.
CONSCIOUSNESS IS NOT ATTA, SELF
"Viññāṇam bhikkhave anattā; viññānañca h'idam bhikkhave attā abhavissa, nayidam viññāṇam ābādhāya samvatteyya. Labbhetha ca viññāne 'evam me viññāṇam hotu evam me viññāṇam mā ahositi. Yasmā ca kho bhikkhave viññāṇam anattā tasmā viññāṇam abādhāyā samvattati na ca labbhati viñ ñ āne' evam me viññāṇam hotu evam me viññāṇam mā ahositi."
"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self."
By consciousness is meant eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, touch-consciousness and mind-consciousness. These six kinds of consciousnesses are held to as self, living entity: 'It is I who see; I see.' 'It is I who hear; I hear.' In this way all the six cognitions of senses, six kinds of consciousnesses are attributed to one single self, I. This clinging to self is ordinarily inevitable. Those objects which are devoid of sense of cognition such as a log, a post, a lump of earth, a stone are regarded as inanimate; only those objects invested with faculties of cognition are regarded to be animate, living entities. Therefore, it is not surprising that eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, etc is taken to be self, a living entity. But in fact, eye consciousness, ear consciousness etc is not self, a living entity. Therefore, the Blessed One declared that consciousness is not self. He explained why it is not so as follows:
REASON WHY CONSCIOUSNESS IS NOT SELF
If consciousness were self, the inner substance, it would not tend to afflict. It is not usual for self to oppress self. It should also be possible to manage so as to have always wholesome states of mind and not to have unwholesome attitudes appearing. But as a matter of fact, consciousness tends to afflict and is not amenable to management and control. Consequently, it is not self, the inner substance.
DIRECT STATEMENT OF CONSCIOUSNESS NOT BEING SELF
"Bhikkhus, in reality, consciousness is not self. Therefore, it tends to afflict and it is not possible to say of consciousness, "Let consciousness be thus (always wholesome); let consciousness be not thus (unwholesome)."
Of the fifty three kinds of mind (consciousness) and mental states (mental formations or concomitants): generality of people are more acquainted with mind, Myanmar's people talk about citta, mind. They rarely speak of the concomitant such as phassa that always appear in conjunction with mind. Furthermore, they are attached to that mind as I, self: 'It is I who sees, I see'; 'It is I who hears, I hear' etc. Not only human beings but even Devas as well as other creatures cling to the belief that consciousness is I, self. However, consciousness is definitely not self; not being self, it tends to be oppressing.
HOW CONSCIOUSNESS IS OPPRESSING
Consciousness oppresses when seeing what is repulsive and horrible, when hearing unpleasant sound, unpleasant talks; when smelling foul, offensive odours; when tasting bad food; when feeling bad sensations of touch; when thinking of depressing, distressing sad and horrible mental objects.
All beings like to dwell only on pleasant sights; but according to circumstances, they may have to face horrible, and repulsive sights. For unfortunate people, the majority of what they see is made up of undesirable objects. This is how eye consciousness tends to oppress. Ever wishing to hear sweet sounds and sweet words, circumstances may compel them to listen to unpleasant sounds; stricken with misfortune, they may be subjected, most of the time, to dreadful noises, threats and rebukes. This is the way ear-consciousness is oppressing. Again, all beings like to enjoy nice, clean smell; but they have to put up also with foul, fetid odours. This is how nose-consciousness oppresses.
The oppressions by eye, ear and nose consciousness are not very apparent in the human world, where as in the animal world, the world of Petas and Niraya, the oppressive nature of these consciousness are vividly seen. Creatures in the animal world are almost constantly seeing horrible objects; hearing dreadful sounds, and those existing in filth have to smell putrid, foul odours all the time. It goes without saying that Petas and beings in Niraya will fare worse than animals. They will be all the time submerged in distress, seeing bad sights, hearing bad sounds, smelling bad smells. In some Niraya everything seen, heard, smelt, tasted, touched and thought about is unpleasant; there exists nothing pleasant for them. They are being subjected to oppression all the time by the six kinds of consciousness.
All men like to enjoy only good taste, but unfortunate people have to exist on bad food. This is how tongue consciousness oppresses. In this respect too the oppression is more apparent in the four nether worlds. Men like to feel only pleasant sensations; but when circumstance would not allow, they will have to put up with undesirable experiences, say, for instance, when they are suffering from an illness. At such times their suffering is so oppressive that they even yearn for instant death to get release from suffering. It is far worse, of course, in the four nether worlds.
Men would like to live a carefree life all the time. Nevertheless, circumstances would not let them lead such a life. Instead, there are many who are gripped with depression, disappointment, sorrow and lamentation. Some of them never get out of the trough of miseries and unhappiness all throughout their life, victims of oppression by the mind consciousness.
CONSCIOUSNESS IS NOT SUBJECT TO ONE'S WILL
The oppressing consciousness is not subject to one's will. Arising as determined by circumstances, consciousness is unmanageable and uncontrollable. Although one may wish for a pleasant sight, in the absence of pleasant objects, one cannot see a pleasant sight. On the other hand, hateful, horrible sights will be seen. When there are unpleasant objects around, and when the eyes, are kept open. This is an example of how eye-consciousness, not being subjected to one's will, arises of itself, dependent on conditions.
Likewise, although one may wish to hear only pleasant sound, in the absence of pleasant objects of sound, pleasant voice and talks, etc., it cannot be heard. Hence the necessity to keep oneself provided with a radio, a recorder, or a cassette to produce, when desired, pleasant sound and voices. Reluctant as we are to hear undesirable sounds, when there are such sounds and voices, inevitably they will come into our ears. The ear-consciousness is thus unmanageable, arising of itself, depending on conditions.
In a similar manner, although we like to enjoy sweet smell, if sweet smell is not present, our wish cannot be fulfilled. Hence people provide themselves with scents and perfumes and flowers. However unwilling we may be to breathe in bad smells, when foul smells exist around, we have to suffer from their smell and other physical illnesses too such as head-ache etc. This is how nose-consciousness is not amenable to will and how it arises of itself depending upon circumstances.
Although we wish to enjoy good taste, pleasant taste-consciousness cannot arise in the absence of good food. It arises only when good food is taken. Hence this wild 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 tongue-consciousness arises of its own uncontrollably and unmanageably.
Touch consciousness can be pleasant only when there are pleasant objects such as fine clothings, comfortable bed, good seats etc. Therefore constant effort has to be made to acquire inanimate and animate objects for delightful sensations of touch. At such times as when it is extremely hot or extremely cold, or when one is faced with dangers such as thorns, spikes, fires and arms or when one is taken ill with a severe malaise, one has to suffer however unreluctantly, from effects of undesirable touch-consciousness, which is obviously uncontrollable, arising on its own, dependent on circumstances.
Every one wants to have a happy, joyous, contented life. This can come about only when one is well provided with sufficient wealth and means. Hence the necessity to constantly endeavour for maintenance of such a way of life. While thus engaged in seeking the means of a comfortable, joyous living, thoughts about difficulties in every day life, about beloved ones, husbands, sons, who have died, about financial and business problems, about old age and debility, may arise to make one unhappy. This is how mind consciousness makes its own appearance unmanageably, uncontrollably.
RESULTANT OF A CAUSE
We have used the expression "In accordance with circumstances and conditions." It is meant to connote circumstantial and conditional causes that will produce a certain resultant effect; it means also that good causes will give good resultants; bad causes will end up in bad effects. No resultant effects can be brought about merely by one's own desire. A certain resultant effect will arise from a given set of cause whether one like it or not. Resultant effects are produced from respective causes and they are uncontrollable and unmanageable. It is obvious, therefore, they are not self, not one's inner substance. The Blessed One had therefore, stated that mind consciousness is not self, because it is not amenable to one's will.
The Blessed One had taught thus to enable one to get rid of the Sāmi atta clinging which holds that there is a self, inside one's person, which can be controlled and managed as one will. When Sāmi atta clinging is removed, Nivāsī atta clinging which believes there is a permanent self residing in one's person is banished at the same time. When it is realized that resultant consciousness is developed only from the conditioning causes and that it soon disappears once it has arisen, it becomes obvious that there is no such thing as permanently enduring self. For example eye-consciousness arises only when there is eye and object of sight. Likewise, ear consciousness can arise only when there is nose and odour; tongue-consciousness can arise only when there is tongue and taste; body consciousness, only when there is body and tactile object; and mental consciousness, only when there is mental base and mental object. When these conditional causes are known for the arising of respective results, the notion of a permanent entity, the Nivāsī atta clinging will be discarded.
The Yogī who is taking note of the phenomena of nāma, rūpa at the time of its occurrence will perceive clearly that, depending on conditions such as eye and sight, consciousness such as eye consciousness arises and vanishes recurrently. Perceiving thus, the Yogī clearly understands that there is no self or living entity which is bringing about the act of seeing etc. He realizes that there is only eye-consciousness which arises when right conditions prevail. In this way, the Yogī gets rid of the Kāraka atta clinging, which believes all actions, physical, vocal and mental, are being done by self, the inner substance.
For those who cannot perceive, through heedful noting the true nature of consciousness as it really is, it is held fast in the form of Sāmi atta, Nivāsī atta, or Kāraka atta. It appears that the aggregates of consciousness is more firmly attached to than the other aggregates. At present times, it is being referred to as soul or living entity. In every day language, it is more commonly talked about where as vedanā, saññā and saṅkhāra, although mental concomitants themselves, are not generally referred to. People talk as if it is the mind that feels the sensations, that recognizes things or cause actions.
At the time of the Blessed One there was a disciple named Sāti who mistook consciousness to be atta, clinging to the wrong view of self. We shall briefly tell the story of Sāti.
THE STORY OF BHIKKHU SĀTI
Bhikkhu Sāti was declaring that he had understood and grasped what the Buddha had taught. He claimed that the Buddha had taught:
'Tadevidam viññāṇam sandhāvati samsarāti anaññam.'
"It is the same consciousness that has been transmigrating and wandering about from existence to existence. It is not another consciousness.
This was his understanding of the Buddha's teaching. He based his views on the Jātaka stories such as king Vessantrā becoming the Buddha, Chaddan elephant king becoming the Buddha, Bhūridat Naga king becoming the Buddha etc. In the last existence as Buddha, there was not the material aggregates of the king Vessantrā, nor of the elephant king and of the Naga king. But the consciousness of the existence as Buddha was the same that had existed previously as king Vessantrā, elephant king. Naga king etc; it has remained undestroyed, enduring, stable throughout the rounds of existence. This was how he understood and how he was recounting about the Buddha's teaching. His belief is nothing but Nivāsī atta clinging to consciousness.
Other learned disciples of the Buddha tried to explain him that he was wrong in his view, but Sāti remained adamant believing that he knew the Dhamma more realistically than other Bhikkhus. It is not an easy task to point out the true Dhamma to those holding wrong views of it. They are apt to look down on their well-wishers as being antiquated and behind the times (in the matter of interpreting the Dhamma) unlike their leader who innovated the new teaching of Dhamma. As a matter of fact, any one claiming to be of Buddhist faith should ponder well to see whether his views are in accord with the teaching of the Buddha. If one holds on to views which are not in accord with the Buddha's teaching, one is then actually outside the dispensation of the Buddha.
Failing to persuade Sāti to abandon his wrong views, other bhikkhus went and reported the matter to the Blessed One who then sent for the Bhikkhu Sāti. When asked by the Blessed One, Sāti repeated his views: "Based on the Jātaka stories as recounted by the Blessed One the present consciousness is the same as that one which had existed in pervious lives. That consciousness has not reached destruction but passed on from existence to existence. This is how I understand." The Buddha asked him what he meant by consciousness.
He replied, 'The Blessed One, consciousness is that which expresses, which feels, which experiences the fruits of good and bad deeds in this existence, in that existence.'
"To whomever, you stupid one," remonstrated the Blessed One," have you heard me expounding the doctrine in this manner? I have explained consciousness as arising out of conditions; that there is no arising of consciousness without conditions. Inspite of that you have wrongly interpreted my teaching and attribute that wrong view to me. You have caused the arising of many bad deeds; holding this wrong interpretation of my teaching and committing the wrong deed of talking about it will cause distress and suffering to you for a long time to come."
Sāti, however, refused to give up the view which he took to be right. Dogmatic views are frightening. Sāti was a Bhikkhu disciple of the Buddha. He followed the Buddha's teaching and claimed to have understood it. Yet we find him obstinately refusing to give up his wrong views even when exhorted by the Buddha himself, which of course amounted to not having faith in the Buddha. Now a days too there are some 'religious teachers' teaching that there is no need to keep the five precepts not to engage in meditational practices. It is enough to follow and understand his teaching.' When learned people of good will try to point out the true teaching to such 'teachers; who have entertained misleading notions of the Buddha's teaching, they are said to have replied scornfully that they would not abandon their views even if the Buddha himself came to teach them.'
There are many instances where non-Dhamma is being handed round as Dhamma. It is essential to scrutinize any such teaching so as to weed out, what is not the teaching, a concise statement of which is given below:
SUMMARY OF TRUE DHAMMA
1. Sabba pāpassa akāranam_ To abstain from all evil deeds, Physical misdeeds such as killing, stealing, and maltreating should be avoided. Vocal evils of lying, slandering, using offensive language should also be avoided. Thinking of evil thoughts should also be abandoned. Evil thoughts could be got rid of only by engaging in the practice of concentration and Vipassanā meditation.
'Avoidance of all evil deeds, physical, vocal and mental, constitutes the First Teaching of the Buddha.'
2. Kusalassa upasampadā_ To develop all forms of meritorious deeds such as giving alms, keeping precepts and practicing meditation. With regard to keeping of precepts, it may be fulfilled to a certain extent by avoidance of evil deeds in pursuance of the first teaching. But one does not become establish in Ariyamagga sīla, precepts pertaining to the Noble Path, by mere practice of abstinence. It can be accomplished only through practice of Vipassanā meditation till the path is attained; or practice of concentration meditation or absorption concentration.
Some people talk disparagingly of concentration meditation. The Blessed One himself had however recommended cultivation of the concentration meditation too. When jhānic concentration is achieved, that concentration can be used as an ideal basis for Vipassanā meditation. Alternatively, if jhānic stage is not attainable, Access concentration may be tried for and this concentration, when attained, may be used as a basic for Vipassanā meditation. If even access concentration is not attainable, one has to work for the momentary concentration of the Vipassanā meditation. Once it is attained, the Vipassanā insights will become developed in their own sequence till the Noble Path is accomplished.
In Buddha's dispensation, the most essential tasks is to acquire wholesome merits of Vipassanā concentration and Vipassanā insight, since Noble Path and Fruition is unattainable without Vipassanā meditation. Thus in order to become equipped with the merits of the Noble Path and Fruition, the good deeds of Vipassanā meditation must be developed. We cannot afford to ignore any form of meritorious deeds, as the second teaching of the Buddha enjoins fulfillment of all the three types of good deeds.
We are hearing about 'new teachings' which go against these first and second teachings of the Buddhas. The propagandists of such 'new teachings' said, 'the unwholesome defilement ( akusala kilesā ) do not exist permanently; consequently, no effort is needed to dispel them. No effort is needed either to perform good deeds of keeping precepts and practicing concentration and insight meditation. All these efforts are futile and produce suffering only. It must be definitely understood that all these new teachings are diametrically opposed to the true teaching of the Buddha.
3. Sacitta pariyadapanam_ To keep one's own mind pure Through practice of Vipassanā, the Path must be developed. With the Path developed thus, and Fruition attained, the mind is completely free of defilements and hence absolutely pure. According to the Commentary, the degree of purity to be attained is no less than that of an Arahat. This exposition by the Commentary is in full agreement with the teaching of the Buddha enshrined in the Pāḷi texts. Nevertheless, those who are causing harm and injury to the dispensation are discouraging the practice of keeping precepts, developing concentration and Vipassanā meditation, saying they are futile efforts which will land one in suffering only. "Keep the mind rested, not engaged in any activity. Place it in a blank spot in one's person where no unwholesome activities are developing. In this way the mind will remain pure. "This is a teaching which is entirely devoid of reason, foundation and support. To discourage the practice of sīla, samādhi, and bhāvanā is to despoil the Buddha's dispensation. It is an impossibility to keep one's mind pure without the practice of concentration and insight meditation. Consciousness is in the nature of insubstantiality, uncontrollable, unmanageable. To assert that mind can be kept as one will without the help of meditation is to refute the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta which states that it is not possible to say of consciousness, 'Let consciousness be thus (all wholesome); let it not be thus (all unwholesome). This is something to ponder well upon.
The last sentence in this concise statement of the Teaching says: 'Etam Buddhāna sāsanam.' "These three namely, avoidance of evils, promotion of all that is good, keeping the mind pure, are the Teachings, the exhortation of all the Buddhas."
The Buddhist Dispensation thus constitutes concisely the three factors as stated above. For the Dispensation to endure, to prosper, all evil deeds must be avoided as far as possible by oneself; others should be taught as far as possible to avoid evil deeds. One must perform as far as possible meritorious deeds and teach others to do the same. If someone is found teaching the non-Dhamma, 'Don't avoid evil deeds; don't do good deeds,' one must do the utmost to prevent him from teaching such wrong views. One should purify one's mind by practising bhāvanā and exhort others to do likewise. It is thus for the purpose of safeguarding the Dispensation and promoting its prosperity that we have to point out the wrong teaching and explain how they have deviated from the right one.
We have digressed some what from Sāti's story by taking sometime mentioning the dangers to the Dispensation from wrong teachings. Now to continue with Sāti's story: When Sāti remained adamant holding firmly to his wrong views, the Blessed One addressed the Bhikkhus:
"Have you ever heard me expounding the Dhamma in the way S āti expressed?"
"No, the Blessed One. We have heard only that consciousness arise out of conditions; and that there is no arising of consciousness without conditions," Then the Blessed. One explained further;
"Each consciousness arises because of its own conditions."
'Consciousness is named according to whatever condition through which it arises; on account of the eye and visible objects arises a consciousness and it is called eye-consciousness; on account of the ear and sounds arises a consciousness and it is called ear-consciousness; on account of the nose and odours arises a consciousness called nose-consciousness; on account of the tongue and taste arises a consciousness called tongue-consciousness; on account of the body and tactile objects arises a consciousness called tactile (body) consciousness; on account of the mind and mind objects arises a consciousness called mental consciousness. For example, a fire may burn on account of wood and it is called wood fire, It may burn on account of bamboo splinter, grass, cow dung paddy husk, refuse; then it is called splinter fire, grass fire, cow dung fire etc. In a similar manner, consciousness is named according to how it is conditioned.
In this Sutta concerning with Sāti's view, the Blessed One had given also a comprehensive treatment of the Law of Dependent Origination. We have no time to go into all this. We shall confine ourselves to dealing more fully with the simile of fire.
When there is a forest fire, it might originate from burning of refuse or burning of dried leaves. If there is constant supply (of fuels) and there is no one to extinguish the fire, it rage on for miles around. It might seem that the same fire continues on 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 leaves fire. Also the leaves fires, the fire that burns a particular leaf is not the same as the one burning other leaves.
Even so eye consciousness and ear consciousness which appear to be one and the same consciousness to ordinary persons are seen by careful observers as distinct separate consciousness depending on conditions through which they arise. When we consider even one form of consciousness only, for example eye-consciousness we will find different consciousness arising from different colours, white, black etc. Narrowing down to just one colour, for instance, white, the Yogī who constantly takes note and who has advanced to the stage of udayabbaya ñāṇa and bhaṅga ñāṇa will see in the seemingly continuous and single consciousness of white colour, preceding consciousness as 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 note taking is involved in the phenomenon of touching and the distinction of each consciousness is also most pronounced here.
When feeling the pain, careful noting as 'pain, pain, enables one to see distinctly each consciousness of pain, part by part as it arises. Similarly mental consciousness of thought and ideas can be noted as each consciousness arises separately. If any thought or idea intrudes while noting rising and falling of the abdomen, these should be noted off as they arise. Usually the intruding thought or idea comes to cessation, as soon as its arising is noted off by the Yogī, but if thoughts persist in arising conditioned by the same mental objects, they should be observed making their appearance turn by turn in sequence. When the thought moves over to another mental object, the arising of separate consciousness is very distinctly observable.
When Yogī can perceive the arising of each distinct consciousness with each separate noting, he comes to realize personally the impermanent nature of consciousness, its nature of suffering because of constant arising and vanishing, its insubstantial nature because it is happening according to its conditions, uncontrollable and unmanageable. It is most important to gain such personal realization.
We have explained fully how the five aggregates namely, matter, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa are not self. We will recapitulate with mnemonics on four kinds of atta clinging and on how consciousness is not self.
1. Thinking there is a living substance inside one's person, manageable and amenable to one's will is Sāmi atta clinging.
2. Thinking that the inner substance is permanent and enduring is Nivāsī atta clinging.
3. Thinking that all three kinds of physical, vocal and mental activities are carried out by the inner substances is Kāraka atta clinging.
4. Thinking it is this living substance which experiences all the good and bad sensations is Vedaka atta clinging.
SUMMARY OF MYANMAR TRANSLATION OF THE PĀḶI TEXT
"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self; Were consciousness self, it would not tend to afflict and it should be possible to say of consciousness, 'Let consciousness be thus (all wholesome); let consciousness be not thus (all unwholesome).
Actually, consciousness is not self. For this reason consciousness tend to afflict and it is not possible to say of consciousness, 'Let consciousness be thus (all wholesome), let consciousness be not thus (all unwholesome), and is not manageable at will.
Having explained fully how the five aggregates are not self, we shall bring out, for your edification, further illustrations concerning the five aggregates, being extracts from Pheṇapiṇḍūpama Sutta of Khandavagga, Samyutta Pāḷi Text:
Pheṇapiṇḍūpamam rūpam, vedanā pubbulūpamā
Maricikūpamā saññā, saṅkhārā kadalupamā
Māyūpamañca viññāṇam desitādiccabandhunā.
RŪPA IS LIKE FROTH
Rūpa is like froth, which is seen floating about in the creeks and waterways, made up of air bubbles, entrapped in droplets of water, These droplets of water, blown up by air bubbles, congregate to form frothy scum, the size of a human fist, a human head, the size of a man or even bigger. Casually seen, a big mass of froth may appear to be of substance. When carefully observed, it turns out to be insubstantial, useless for any purpose. Likewise, the human body complete with head, body, hands and feet, in male form, in female form, appears to be very substantial; it seems permanent, looks beautiful and good, seemingly a living entity.
THE BODY IS INSUBSTANTIAL TOO
But when the body is subjected to mental analysis, it turns out to be just like the mass of froth quite insubstantial - - a mere conglomeration of thirty two abominable constituent parts namely hair, body hair, nail, toe nail, teeth, skin, flesh, muscle, bone etc. On further minute analysis, it is found to be a conglomerate of minute sub-atomic particles, invisible to the naked eyes. It may be likened to a big pile of sand made up of minute individual sand particles. Alternatively, we may take the example of rice flour or wheat flour consisting of minute individual grains of rice or wheat powder: When soaked with right amount of water, it turns into dough, a substantial mass; Which can be quite big by using large amounts of flour. This substantial dough can be shaped into figure of a man of massive size but not of one solid mass, being made up of conglomeration of fine grains of rice or wheat powder. Similarly, the body is not of one solid mass but made up of small particles of matter massed together in one big heap; and just like the mass of froth, devoid of inner substance.
There is no permanent core, no beautiful substances, no living entity called self. 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 earth element of extension (pathavī) forms that part of the body which is manifested in the sense of touch, as rough, smooth, hard or soft. The elements of heat or cold; the element of motion form the other parts of the body. Remove these three elements and the human body which can be touched and felt will no longer exist. The material quality of odour also forms a constituent part of the body. The human body can therefore be sensed by its odour; extract that too and nothing will remain by which human body may be recognized or identified.
We see things because we have the sensitive material quality of eye; without it the body cannot see anything just like a blind man. We also have sensitive material quality of ear which enables us to hear; the sensitive material quality of nose which enables us to recognize smell; the sensitive material quality of the body with which we get the sensation of touch. All these small but useful constituent material qualities congregate to assume the form and shape of a human body, wholly contributing to its utility. Without them, the human body will have no utilitarian value. As a matter of fact, without these constituent parts the human form as such cannot come into existance.
As stated above, if these constituent parts are pulverized so as to make them fall apart, then the human body will no longer exist. There will be left only fine particles of matter. Furthermore, these sensitive material qualities such as eye, visual objects are not existing permanently and enduring. They keep on arising and vanishing, the new coming into the place of the old. Thus this body is like a lump or mass of froth, just a conglomeration of substanceless material qualities.
When this body is to be subjected to careful examination and analysis, one should start from where phenomenon manifests itself vividly. When walking, the material qualities of extension and motion become most prominent. Therefore, in accordance with the Satipatthāna discourse, 'gacchanto vā gacchāmīti pajānāti' (When going knows 'I am going'), the Yogī should take note, 'going, going, raising, stepping out, dropping etc'. While standing, the Yogī should note, 'standing, standing'; while sitting, sitting, sitting, touching, touching, rising, falling, etc;' when the limbs etc are seen, it should be noted as seeing, seeing when body odours are smelt, 'smelling smelling': when limbs are moved and stretched, 'stretching, stretching'; moving, changing.'
When concentration gets strengthened by carefully noting as described, the Yogī realizes that an act of going consists of desire to go and the motion and expansion. Acts of standing and sitting are made up of desire to stand or sit followed by a series of motion and expansion. Likewise, with bending, stretching and changing postures. In an act of seeing, there is eye consciousness and visual object; in smelling, nose consciousness and odor. Each phenomenon is seen to arise for the moment, only to pass away instantly. The limbs, hands and feet, the head, the shape of the body are no longer felt and recognized as such. They appear merely as a recurrent physical process, rising and passing away incessantly. At that stage, Yogī comes to understand by himself how the body is like a mass of froth.
Perceiving thus, Yogī realizes that rūpa is impermanent, terrible suffering because of incessant rising and vanishing. Not-self because it is happening, not as one wishes but according to its conditions, not one's own inner substance, not manageable, not controllable.
Rūpa is likened to froth,
Constantly rising, vanishing,
T' is Suffering, not self.
VEDANĀ IS LIKE A BUBBLE
Vedanā is likened to an air bubble. When rain drops fall on the water surface, little pockets of air find themselves trapped in the surrounding wall of water forming minute bubbles. Children produce similar bubbles to play with, by blowing softly from a blow pipe. Conglomeration of these minute bubbles form a mass of froth.
These bubbles are formed whenever rain drops fall on the surface of water only to vanish instantly. Vedanā which experiences the sensations is likened to the bubbles, because of its nature of incessant perishing after arising. This is in conformity with what the Yogī have known through personal knowledge, but at variance with what ordinary people presume to be. Because ordinary common people's view, on looking long at a beautiful object, is that the pleasant sight remains for quite a long time.
When an unpleasant sight has been seen for sometimes, they think it will also last for a long time. The ordinary object, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, is also thought to last long, to remain permanently. In a similar manner, whatever is pleasant or unpleasant to hear is believed to remain long. Especially, the painful feeling is thought to remain for days, months or years. Thus, ordinary people's view of feeling is not quite what really happens-it quickly vanishes like a bubble. To personally realize this truth, one must become engaged in observing constantly the psycho-physical process happening inside one's body.
If engaged thus in observing constantly the psycho-physical process, the Yogī will perceive at the stage of Udayabbaya and Bhaṅga ñāṇas, that whatever is pleasant, unpleasant to see, to hear, to smell, vanishes instantly. The passing away of painful feeling is especially vivid. Observing the painful feeling as 'painful, painful,' with each noting is seen the perishing of each pain. At the stage of Samāsana ñāṇa, painful feeling becomes more intensely and more numerously noticeable. At each noting, the pain from each place of observation vanishes; thus the pain from one place vanishes when noted, from another place vanishes when noted, It goes on and on in a similar manner. The pain vanishes when noted as if instantly removed by hand.
Thus for the Yogī whose concentration has become strengthened, the pleasant sight which is seen and noted vanishes quickly. But since there is eye and visual object, the sight is seen again. Every time it is seen, it is noted and it quickly vanishes again. The process thus goes on and on. The same process takes place with unpleasant objects and neither pleasant nor un-pleasant objects. Disappearance with each noting of pleasant, unpleasant and neither pleasant nor unpleasant sensations of sound is more distinct.
So do the various sensations of smell disappear when noted. The taste sensations are specially vivid to the Yogī who keeps noting the taste. The delicious taste he feels while chewing the food keeps on vanishing and rising with each act of his noting, The pleasant, the unpleasant and neither pleasant nor unpleasant sensations of touch too arise and vanish when noted as has been described.
Similarly, feelings of unhappiness, sorrow, sadness, happiness and gladness will be seen, when subjected to heedful noting, that they vanish quickly by noting. Thus feelings are just like bubbles, disappearing fast, impermanent, untrustworthy, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Feeling is likened to bubbles,
Constantly rising, vanishing,
T' is suffering, not Self.
SENSE PERCEPTION IS LIKENED TO MIRAGE
Sense perception which apprehends ordinary sense-objects (whatever is seen, heard, touched or known) as reality is likened to a mirage. Mirage is optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions especially appearance of sheet of water or pictures of houses in the hot gases that rise from the earth in the midday sun of the last month of the summer, (Translator's note; Here only a shortened account, instead of the full translation of the description of the mirage on page 119 of the original text, is given).
Thus mirage is an optical illusion. Wild beasts such as deers etc roam about in summer heat in search of water. When they see a body of water in the distance, they hasten towards that place only to find a dry tract of land instead of a pond or a lake. 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 saññā perceives people into thinking whatever is seen, heard, touched or known to be a human being a man, a woman etc. Having an illusory perception of whatever is seen, heard, touched or known, people are engaged in multiple activities concerning them, just like the deers of the wild forests who go after a distant mirage taking it to be a mass of water.
To realize that perception is illusory and to save oneself from the sufferings of pursuing after non-existent objects, one must take heedful note of all the material and mental phenomena as they occur. When concentration gets strengthened, it is seen that in every phenomenon there are only material object to be 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 keep on perishing; perishing while they are being noted.
Thus what was formerly held by saññā to be enduring permanent, an individual, a being, a man, a woman, self, is now being seen as a deception by saññā which is creating an optical illusion like a mirage. In reality, the Yogī realizes that it is merely a phenomenon of incessant arising and vanishing, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Saññā is likened to a mirage,
Constantly rising, vanishing,
T' is suffering, not self.
SAṄKHĀRA IS LIKE A PLANTAIN TRUNK
Volitional activities are likened to plantain trunks. A plantain trunk looks like an ordinary tree trunk, which has a solid, hard inner core. But when the plantain trunk is cut up and examined, it will be found to be made up of layers of fibrous material with no substantial, solid inner core. Saṅkhāra is like the plantain trunk, void of inner substance. It consists of fifty kinds of mental concomitants headed by cetanā, volition. The outstanding members of this group are phassa, contact with the object; giving attention to the object, manasikāra; ekaggatā, one-pointedness of mind; vitakka, discursive thinking or initial application vicāra, investigation or sustained application; viriya, effort, loba, greed, dosa, hatred, moha, delusion; māna, conceit; diṭṭhi, wrong view; vicikicchā doubts; aloba, non-greed; adosa, non-hatred; amoha, non-delusion; saddhā, faith, sati, mindfulness; mettā, loving kindness; karunā, mercy; muditā, sympathetic joy etc., are all mental concomitants forming saṅkhāra, Cetanā responsible for all volitional activities (physical, vocal and mental) is its leading member. These saṅkhāra dhammas are numerically large and being involved in all activities (physical, vocal and mental) are very prominent. Thus saṅkhāras are mainly responsible for the atta clinging that it is I; self, doing all these activities.
Saṅkhāras appear to posses a hard core of inner substance. In reality, however, saṅkhāras are devoid of useful inner substance, the hard core. The Yogī can see the reality by taking note constantly of the phenomenon of nāma and rūpa. The Yogī who is constantly taking note while going, as 'going, going', 'raising, stepping, dropping', comes to notice also the arising of the desire to go, when concentration becomes stronger. This desire to go is also observed to vanishing and arising. Although desire to go is usually described as 'mind to go', it is actually saṅkhāra under the guidance of cetanā, volition. It is the volitional activity led by cetanā, that motivates the action of going. Urged on by the cetanā, the act of going, involving raising, stepping, dropping, is accomplished.
Before such knowledge is gained, there was the notion that it is I who wants to go; I go because I want to go, a clinging to atta. Now that the desire to go is seen to be perished away, the knowledge appears that there is no self, only a phenomenon. The desires to bend, to stretch, to move, to change are also seen in this true light. In addition, the effort put in to fulfill the desire to look, the desire to see are also saṅkhāras making momentary appearance and vanishing at once. It is realized therefore, they are void of essence, not Self, mere phenomenon, passing away. Likewise, with regard to desire to listen and effort made to hear in fulfillment of the desire to listen.
Further it is seen that thinking, vitakka; investigating, vicarā, and effort, viriya, when noted as they arise, vanish instantly. Thus they are also devoid of essence, not self mere phenomenon. As loba, dosa make their appearance, they are noted as 'wanting, liking, being angry' and they soon disappear establishing the fact that they are also not self, having no essence nor hard core. When saddha, mettā, karunā, arise, they are noted as having faith, confidence, wishing well, wishing happiness, having compassion etc. They vanish away instantly. They are, therefore, not made up of substance devoid of essence, not Self. This analytical knowledge brings home the fact that saṅkhāra is like a plantain trunk, which reveals no solid inner core, when cut open and examined layer by layer.
Saṅkhāra is like a plantain trunk,
Constantly rising, vanishing,
T's suffering, not self.
CONSCIOUSNESS IS LIKE A CONJUROR'S TRICK
Becoming conscious of something is like producing a conjuror's trick. When seeing an object, a person ordinarily knows he sees a man, a woman; he also knows that 'I sees; it is I who see. (When hearing anything too, he knows, I hear a man's voice, I hear a woman's voice. I hear, it is I who hears.' Getting a smell, he knows. 'This is the smell of such and such a person, 'I smell;' when eating he knows, 'this food I eat is prepared by such and such a person, it is I who eats.' 'When touching he knows, 'I have touched so and so: It is I who touches.' In thinking too he considers that,' 'I think, It is I who thinks.' To know, too become conscious of things in this manner is, not knowing things as they truly are; or to know wrongly judged from the standpoint of the ultimate truth. Such wrong knowledge is not brought about by the five viññāṇas, namely, eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness etc. These five viññāṇas cognizes only what is ultimately true, namely visible sight, sound, etc., not as the wrongly conceived objects of man, woman etc, But at the end full process of a particular cognition (citta vītthi) when reflection takes place with rising of mind consciousness (mano viññāṇa), misconceptions, as man or woman with regard to the visible sight previously seen are liable to occur.
For your general information, we shall briefly explain the process of cognition with respect to process of seeing and process of reflection. If the eye has caught sight of visible form, the flow of Bhavaṅga is interrupted to be followed immediately by pancadvāravajjana consciousness that turns to and considers the sensation. Immediately after that arises the eye consciousness which first cognizes the sensation of sight, without any reflection obey it is conventional terms man or woman etc. As it ceases, it is followed by recipient consciousness, sampaticchana, a moment of reception of the object so seen. After its cessation comes the investigating consciousness. Santirana, the momentary examination of the object so received. After this comes the stage of determining consciousness votthapana. When this consciousness ceases, there arises for seven times in rapid succession with much impetus, the impulsive or the active consciousness called javana. With the cessation of the last javana, comes the registering consciousness. Tadalambana, which is repeated twice holding on to the same object which is still attracting the attention. At the expiration of this registering consciousness, the processes of cognition is complete and there follows a series of bhavaṅga, a passive state of mind like that obtaining in a deep sleep.
The consciousness that arises from the bhavaṅga state is the mind door consciousness avajjana; it is followed by eye consciousness and recipient consciousness sampaticchana. Then comes the investigating consciousness santīrana, followed by the determining consciousness votthapana. Then followed for seven times in rapid succession the janava consciousness, the impulsions; then the registering consciousness tadalambana appears twice in succession. Thus every time a sight is seen, from the appearance of the sense-door consciousness to the sinking of the last tadalambana, there are altogether fourteen thought moments which complete a process of cognition in a regular manner.
If the impression of the object is not very strong, it survives only as far as the consciousness has reached its javana stage. When very enfeebled near death's door, javana consciousness occurs only five or six times. When the impression of the object is very obscure, the process of cognition runs up to the stage of votthapana, after two or three thought moments of which the process of cognition comes to an end. When Vipassanā is very strong, the process does not advance till javana stage. It abruptly ends after two or three thought moments of votthapana and sink back to the bhavaṅga level. This is in accordance with the meditation instructions given to the Venerable Pothila by the young novice who instructed that the process of cognition with respect to five door consciousness should not sink to javana stage.
As staged above, in the process of cognition with respect to eye consciousness, the object is only the ultimate visible sight, not the conceptual form of a man or a woman. After running the complete process, it sinks down to the bhaṅga which runs its course for some time. Then the process of cognition with respect to the mind door, manodvāravīthi, arises through reflection on whatever has been seen. Arising from bhavaṅga, the mind door apprehending consciousness manodvāravijjana, appears, followed by javana process which runs for seven moments and the tadalambana consciousness which lasts for two moments. The whole course, therefore, runs for ten thought moments after which it sinks down to bhavaṅga level again. In this thought process, the object is just the reflection on the sight that has been seen, not yet on any wrong concept of pervious experiences.
When the reflective process of cognition takes place for the second time, it is the concept of form and appearance that have become its object -- the form and appearance of a man or a woman. When the process is repeated for the third time, it is the concept of name (of man or woman) that has become the object. From then onwards, everytime there is a reflection on what have been experienced previously the object is always wrong concept: 'I see a man, I see a woman.' This is how consciousness plays conjuring tricks and brings on wrong concepts in place of realities.
1. In the first process of cognition of sight, consciousness registers only the ultimate reality of sight.
2. In the first round reflection on what has been seen, there is still consciousness of what has actually been seen namely the sight. No misconcept has appeared yet. If at this stage, heedful noting is done, wrong concept cannot come in. Cognition will rest only on the ultimate object.
3. In the second round of reflection, concept of form and shape of man and woman begin to appear.
4. In the third round of reflection, the concept of name as man and woman 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, sound etc arises or when the first round of reflection on what has been seen, heard etc., takes place, if careful noting is done instantly as 'seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching etc, wrong concepts cannot comes in. The consciousness will rest on the reality of what is actually seen, heard etc. That is the reason for taking note of 'seeing, hearing, touching' at the instant of each arising so that consciousness will remain with reality.
If note is taken as seeing, seeing while an object is being seen the object of cognition will cease just with the fact of seeing; process of cognition of concepts through reflection of what was seen cannot take place. In accordance with the teaching 'diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattam bhavissati', just seeing at the time of seeing and consciousness of seeing ends its course there.
Then there appears the analytical knowledge of the unknowing matter such as eyes, sound etc of the body and the knowing mind which is consciousness of the objects. There is also knowledge that seeing and noting appears recurrently, rising and vanishing. Realization comes that there is only anicca, dukkha, anatta.
Likewise with what is heard, smelt, tasted, touched or thought about. Constant note taking of these phenomena will reveal the difference between nāma and rūpa, their nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta. Realization comes to Yogī "Previously, because there was not taking any note of the phenomena, the wrong concepts are believed to be reality; the conjuring tricks have been accepted as reality. Now that the phenomena are noted as they occur at the moment of occurrence, there is not seen any such thing as self, atta; there is only incessant arising and perishing. When seeing an object, the eye consciousness immediately vanishes after it has arisen; there is no such thing as seeing for a long time; there is only fresh arising of eye consciousness with each act of seeing and its instant perishing.
Likewise with hearing, touching, thinking etc. There is no hearing for a long time. With each act of hearing, the ear consciousness arises and vanishes instantly. There is no touching for a long time. At each act of touching, the touch consciousness arises and vanishes instantly. There is no thinking over for long; with each act of thinking, the mind consciousness arises and vanishes instantly.
Therefore everything is impermanent. Arising is always followed by instant perishing; there is nothing reliable, trust-worthy; only terror and suffering. Every thing happens not as one wishes, but as conditioned by their own causes and circumstances just nature of Non-self.
Mere conjuring tricks, this consciousness,
Constantly rising, vanishing,
T' is suffering, not self.
From this Phenapindūpama Sutta also, it is quite obvious that the five aggregates are void of permanent substance, whole-some, pleasant inner core, which is subservient to one's will. They are not self, but of the nature of insubstantiality. We have amply made these points very clear. We shall end our discourse here today.
By virtue of having given respectful attention to this discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta may you all attain and realize soon, the Nibbāna, by means of the Path and Fruition of your wish.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the Fourth Part of the Discourse on
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the 8th waxing day of Wāso 1325 M.E.)
The series of discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was begun on the 8th waxing day of Nayone. Already four discourses have been given with full expositions of the teaching on the five aggregates being non-self. From today, we will go on to the second Part of the Sutta which described the aggregates in terms of the characteristics of anicca and dukkha, (impermanence and unsatisfactoriness). But before we deal with them, we wish to explain before hand the characteristic of non self and how this characteristic is hard to comprehend.
THE CHARACTERISTIC OF NON-SELF
All the nāma rūpa components of the five aggregates are Non-self. That they are not Atta, Non-self becomes evident through their characteristics or sgins of non-self. The Commentary describes these characteristics as below: That it is not amenable to one's will is a characteristic of non-self. In this Sutta this characteristics is expressed in these terms: 'It is not possible to say of rūpa, "Let rūpa be thus (all wholesome)".
Further in this Sutta we find the expression, 'It tends to afflict.' Affliction or oppressing should thus be taken as another characteristic of Non-self. Also there is a query in the Sutta, 'Is it fitting to consider it a self that which is subject to change?' Thus constant change and alteration is a characteristics of non-self.
When these characteristics are observed in the cause of taking note of the nāma rūpa phenomena as it is happening, the knowledge developed that the aggregates of nāma rūpa are non-self, but mere phenomena; such knowledge is termed Anattānupassanā ñāṇa, knowledge developed by contemplation on the characteristics of non-self. The name of Anattalakkhaṇa is given to this Sutta since it deals with the characteristics of Non-self.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF NON-SELF IS HARD TO COMPREHEND
"The characteristics of impermanence and suffering are easy to understand, but the characteristics of non self is hard to comprehend," states the commentary of Sammoha. According to the Commentary, utterances easily come to the mouth. "Oh, impermanence, not enduring," when a pot is dropped accidentally and gets broken. Again, afflicted with boils or sores on the body and with pain because of piercing thorns or pointed sticks, one usually murmurs "Oh what trouble, what suffering." In this way the nature of impermanence and unsatisfactoriness is clearly visible and easily understandable. But the characteristic of Non-self is not so easily comprehensible just like an object lying in the dark is hard to explain to others.
The characteristics of impermanence and unsatisfactoriness are well known either inside the Dispensation or outside it. But the characteristics of non-self is known only in the Dispensation, it is non-existent outside it. The wise hermits such as Sarabaṅga who were outside of the Dispensation could teach only about the nature of impermanence and suffering; the doctrine of Non-self was beyond them. If they could only teach this doctrine, their disciples would have attained the knowledge of the Path and Fruition. But since they could not teach it, attainment of Path and Fruition was an impossibility outside of the Dispensation.
It is the unique quality of the attribute of the Exalted Enlightened One to be able to teach and explain the doctrine of non-self. Teachers outside of the dispensation could not handle this doctrine which is so subtle and profound. The commentary states that the non-self doctrine is so deep that even the Enlightened One had to employ either the characteristics of impermanence or the characteristics of suffering or both of them to facilitate the teaching of the doctrine of non-self.
The sub-commentary explained further that: 'In the above statement of the commentary, the anicca and dukkha known outside the Dispensation are mere conventional terms, by means of which idea of non-self could not be known. Only the anicca and dukkha realized in the absolute sense could be useful in explaining the doctrine of non-self. Making use of this sub-commentary comments, we have described conventional and real concepts of anicca-dukha in our book on Sīlavanta Sutta: reference to which may be made for further information on them.
ANATTA EXPLAINED BY MEANS OF ANICCA
In Chachakka Sutta of Uparipaṇṇāsa Pāḷi Text we find Anatta explained by means of anicca. According to this Sutta, the Yogī should know the following six classes of six kinds:
1. The six internal bases namely eye, ear, nose etc.
2. The six external base namely sight, sound, odour etc.
3. Six kinds of consciousness.
4. Six kinds of phassa, impressions.
5. Six kinds of feeling.
6. Six kinds of desire, hunger for sight, sound etc.
Here 'should know' means, according to the Commentary, 'should know' by means of vipassanā contemplation, by means of Ariya magga ñāṇa. Therefore, whenever anything is seen, it should be mindfully noted so that the eye and its objects of sight, the eye consciousness, the contact and the vedanā that arises on seeing are all made aware of. And if liking and craving for the object develops along with seeing, that rising desire should also be noted as 'liking liking etc.'
Likewise, while hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking the six classes of six kinds of objects should be known. To the Yogī who is aware of these by noting each phenomenon of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking the knowledge is gained personally that eye, visible sight, eye consciousness etc rising and vanishing away. The Yogī realizes, "previously, it was thought that there is a permanent entity, an enduring self. Now it is perceived by actual observation that there is only a natural phenomenon of incessant rising and vanishing. Perceiving no self, no living entity, the Yogī may even wonder for whom is he engaged in meditation. Realization, that there is no self, is attained through fully understanding the nature of impermanence. In corroboration of this practical experience, the Blessed One continued to state in this Chachakha Sutta:
"The sensitive material quality of the eye, which serves as the base for eye consciousness, rises and vanishes on every occasion of seeing; it is, therefore, not permanent, not the seemingly enduring, everlasting entity, the self. If one says, 'the eye is self,' it will amount to saying one's self, Atta is arising and passing away, not stable. Therefore, it must be concluded that the unenduring material quality of the eye is not self."
Likewise, similar conclusions may be drawn with respect to the visible form, eye consciousness, eye contact and Vedanā resulting from eye contact, liking and desiring for the sight, that they are not self. This is how the six phenomena which become prominent at the moment of seeing are to be regarded as non-self. In a similar manner, the six classes of the six kinds of phenomena which are apparent at the moment of hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking may also be regarded as non-self.
SEEING NON-SELF THROUGH SEEING DUKKHA
Anatta is explained in terms of dukkha in the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta itself: ' Rūpa tends to afflict because it is not self,' states the sutta. That which is oppressing is a terror, a suffering; and it is very plain that a terrible suffering cannot to be one's self, one's inner entity.
NON-SELF EXPLAINED IN TERMS OF BOTH ANICCA AND DUKKHA
To explain non-self in terms of both anicca and dukkha, the Blessed One said, 'Rūpa is not permanent. What is not permanent is suffering. what is suffering is not self. What is not self should be regarded with proper wisdom according to reality thus: This is not mine; this I am not; this is not my self.'
In short, 'Rūpa is subject to change and suffering and is therefore, not self. It is not proper to regard with acquisitiveness as mine what is really not self; it is not proper to think vainly of oneself as I am, I can etc; it is not proper to regard it as my self. 'In this manner should rūpa be viewed and regarded in accordance with reality.
In a similar manner, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa are also shown to be not self by their nature of impermanence and suffering. We shall find in the latter portions of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, the nature of non self being described in terms of anicca and dukkha.
The concept of anicca and dukkha is known and accepted outside of the Buddhist teaching too. But the doctrine of non-self, refusing the existence of living entity, is hardly acceptable to those outside of the Buddha's dispensation. At the time of the Buddha, a certain wandering recluse by the name of Saccaka came to the Blessed One and disputed with him on this subject of non-self.
DISPUTES BY THE WANDERER SACCAKA
There was a wandering recluse by the name of Saccaka, who was a teacher of the prince of Vasālī. The wandering recluse asked of Assaji, the youngest of the group of five Bhikkhus, "How is Samaṇa Gotama teaching his disciples, what are the chief instructions of his?". Assaji replied, rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa are impermanent, not self; That's how the master is teaching us; these are his chief instructions."
Upon this, Saccaka, the wandering recluse said, "Friend, we hear an utterance which is evil, unpropitious, We have been hearing that Samaṇa Gotama used to teach this doctrine of anatta, to hear which is evil, unpropitious for us. One of these days we may have opportunity to meet with Samaṇa Gotama and rid him of this wicked, obvious doctrine of his, the wrong view of nonself."
This is an example of how believers in atta look down upon this doctrine of anatta. To hear what the Blessed One has taught about non self is utterly evil and baneful for them. The wandering recluse even talked about ridding the Blessed One of his 'wrong view'. Dogmatists are always of this frame of mind; they run down others, holding fast to their own view. Even those who are teaching in accordance with the Pāḷi canons are disparaged. Such people who are reviling others are usually found to be deficient in their knowledge of the texts and not to have much practical experience of meditational exercise.
The said Saccaka had not yet made sufficient study of Buddha's teaching and had no practical knowledge of the Dhamma. Yet he held a poor opinion of it, feeling himself very much above and superior to it. Therefore, he made an attempt to go to the Blessed One and to engage in contest of beliefs. He was feeling certain to come out the winner in the contest and he wanted people to witness his victory. He went to the Licchavis of Vesali and invited them to accompany him, making a vain boast that he would whirl the Blessed One round in the matter of doctrines just like a powerful man, catching hold of a kid by his fleece, whirl it round and round.
When they reached the presence of the Blessed One, the wanderer asked permission from the Blessed One to put questions to him. He then asked, "Venerable Gotama, how are your disciples instructed?" What are the main points in your instructions? The Blessed One's reply was exactly the same as that given by the Venerable Assaji namely, "Rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa are impermanent, not self. In this way I instruct my disciples. These are the main points of teaching to my disciples."
The wanderer then began to introduce doctrinal matters into discussion by way of illustrations. "Venerable Gotama, the seed and the shoot (cutting) have to rely on the earth, depend on the earth for their growth into plants and trees; likewise, every action that is done with vigour and strength needs the earth for its support; in a similar manner, a person having rūpa as substantial self, Atta, depends on it for both wholesome and unwholesome activities. Likewise a person having vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa as substantial self, depends on vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa for both wholesome and unwholesome activities."
What is meant by this assertion is that: seeds and trees have to depend on the support of the earth for their growth; so also all kinds of activities require strength and vigour. They need the firm support of the earth. Similarly, the wholesome and unwholesome activities are performed by individuals having rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa as self; dependent on these attas are the activities carried out. Also, it is the atta that reaps the fruits (good or bad) thereof. Were rūpa not self, where would be the support for the performance of wholesome and unwholesome deeds; and who would enjoy the fruits of these action?
It is outside the intellectual scope of the disciples to solve this doctrinal matter of atta which is likened to the earth. Only the Blessed One could handle the problem. So said the commentary. Accordingly, the Blessed One intending to tackle the problem personally, asked of the Wanderer, "Saccaka of the Aggivessana clan, Do you hold that rūpa is self, vedanā is self, saññā is self, saṅkhāra is self, viññāṇa is self?"
"Yes, Venerable Gotama, I hold that view and these people here also hold the same view."
The Blessed One urged him, "Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, leave aside other people's view; let us hear what you hold as your own."
It was Saccaka's intention to share the blame, if his view of Atta happens to be blameworthy with the others present there. But the Blessed One urged him to confine his reply only for himself. He was thus forced to admit, that he holds that rūpa is his atta, vedanā is his atta, saññā is his atta, saṅkhāra is his atta, viññāṇa is his atta.
Then the Blessed One asked him, "Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, Rulers like king Pasenadi, king Ajātasatta hold sovereign powers in their own dominions; they kill of those who should be killed, punish those who should be punished, and banish those who should be banished. They rule over their countries as they will; is this not a fact, Saccaka?"
"Sovereign kings have indeed such authority over their countries: Even the Licchavis, elected by popular votes to rule, hold such powers to kill, to punish or banish in their own countries," replied Saccaka, going beyond the bounds of the question put to him, not foreseeing what repercussions it would have on his personal beliefs.
Thereupon, the Blessed One said, "Saccaka of Aggivessana clan you said, rūpa is self, 'My Atta'; Could you exercise your control over that Atta, saying, "Let this Atta of mine be thus; let this Atta be not thus."
The wanderer Saccaka was finding himself on the horns of dilemma. The doctrine of self holds that it can exercise control as one will. The Sāmi Atta clinging, which we have repeatedly mentioned before, believes that it can manage self as it will. At this juncture, Saccaka had admitted that sovereign kings had complete control over their kingdoms; it appeared that he would have to admit that Rūpa which he regarded as self would be amenable to management. If he did that, there would come the further questions whether he would exercise control over his Rūpa so as to keep it youthful like the rūpa of the Licchavi princes. If he replied that it could not be managed, then that would amount of admission that there could be no control over rūpa and therefore it could not be self. Finding himself in this difficult dilemma, Saccaka kept silent without giving any answer.
The Blessed One repeated the question for the second time, but Saccaka remained silent all the time. Before asking him for the third time, the Blessed One gave him this warning: "Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, you'd better answer my question. It is not the time to remain silent. When questioned by a Tathāgatā for a third time, one has to come up with answer or else his head will get split open into seven pieces."
At that time a celestial ogre was said to be hovering above Saccaka head. Armed with thunderbolt, the ogre was poised to split open his head with the thunderbolt. The ogre was visible only to the Blessed One and Saccaka and invisible to others. It is somewhat like ghost manifestations of present days, the ghost being visible to some, invisible to others. Saccaka was greatly frightened by the sight of the ogre; but when he saw the rest of the audience undisturbed in any way, he realized that the ogre was not visible to them. He could not therefore, say that he had to answer the way he did, being in terror threatened by the ogre. He knew also that he had no other refuge but the Blessed One, to whom, therefore, he submitted: "May it please the Blessed One to put the question; I am ready to answer."
Thereupon, the Blessed One asked; "Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, what do you think of that? You said Rūpa is self; Could you say of that self, "Let this rūpa be thus, let this rūpa be not thus, according to your wish?"
"No, the Blessed One there is no control over it", replied Saccaka, contradicting himself thereby. He had said that rūpa is self; if rūpa were self; it should be amenable to control. Now he said that there was no control over rūpa. This amounts to admission that rūpa is not self, one's inner substance.
When the Blessed One heard him contradicting himself, he was cautioned thus; 'Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, take heed, be careful with what you say in reply; what you said later is not in accord with what you have said earlier. What you have said earlier is not in accord with what you said later.
'Now, Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, what do you think of that? You said vedanā is self; could you say of that self, "Let vedanā be thus, let this vedanā be not thus," according to your wish.'
"No, the Blessed One, there is no control over it."
Similar questions were asked concerning saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa prefaced by the same caution to take heed so as not to be contradicting himself. Saccaka also provided similar answers saying there was no control over each of them.
Then the Blessed One asked him whether rūpa is permanent or impermanent. He answered, 'Impermanent, Sir' "What is not permanent, is that suffering or happiness 'Suffering Sir', answered Saccaka." Then, what is impermanent, suffering and subject to change, is it proper to regard it as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self.' "Not that, the Blessed One", he replied. The same questions were repeated with regard to vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa and similar replies were given by Saccaka.
Then he was further questioned thus: "Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, what do you think of that? A certain person holds fast to these aggregates of suffering, clinging to them, attached to them, clasping them firmly, believing them to be 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self;' Is there possibility for this person to understand suffering truly and well, to end this suffering. "This question is quite subtle and profound. The aggregates of nāma and rūpa which manifest themselves at the six doors, at every moment of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing .. one who takes delight in them, and thinks them to be, "This I am, This is mine, This is myself' would this person know that these aggregates of nāma and rūpa are suffering; would it be possible for him to end these sufferings, to be rid of these sufferings.
Saccaka provided the answers according to the questions asked. "Venerable Gotama how could it be possible for him to know the truth of suffering, to end the suffering, impossible Lord Gotama.
In that case, the Blessed One asked, 'are you not the person who holds fast to these aggregates of suffering, clinging to them, attached to them, clasping them firmly, the person who believes them to be "This is mine, This I am, This is my self", Saccaka replied. "The Blessed One I am verily that person, Sir How could I be otherwise?"
The wanderer Saccaka had thought very highly of his own belief in Atta. He was very vain with regard to it, spoke boastfully about it, but when examined by the Blessed One he was forced to admit all along the error of his views. His belief in Atta, Atta vāda, was thoroughly annihilated. To give a final blow to his bloated ego, pride and vanity, the Blessed One taught thus by way of an illustration:
"Saccaka of Aggivessana clan, suppose a person wanting the heartwood or draymen of a tree went into the forest to look for it. Seeing a plantain tree and believing to find the heartwood inside it, he fell the tree cutting it down from the bottom of it. He cut off the top part of the tree and began to peel off the outer skin of the plantain trunk. Not to say of the inner heartwood, he could not even find the outer wood fiber that surrounds the inner pith in the plantain trunk.
"Exactly as in that example, when I examine your doctrine in atta, it is found to be void of essential inner substance. Did you not make the boast amidst the crowd in the city of Vesāli: "There is no one who can withstand me in any contest of doctrines, without trembling, without sweating; I have not yet come across any recluse or Brahmin, who can withstand me without trembling nor sweating, nor any one who has admitted himself to be an Arahat (fully accomplished Worthy One) and who has become all Enlightened. Even a lifeless wooden post, not endowed with mind or mental concomitants, when challenged by me in the matter of doctrine, would tremble and tumble down, not to say of a human person. "Had you not made such boasts, Saccaka of Aggivessana clan? As it happens, some of the sweat from your brows have soaked through your upper robe and are dropping on the ground. As for me, I have no sweat on my body, "So saying the Blessed One exposed a portion of his body so as to let people see for themselves, there was indeed no sweat on him.
The wanderer Saccaka, having nothing to say in reply, remained silent, embarrassed and crest-fallen, with slumping shoulders and lowered head. Then one of his followers, a Licchavi prince by the name of Dummukha rose and asked permission from the Blessed One to bring up an illustration. On being permitted by the Blessed One, Dummukha, the Licchavi prince, said, "The Blessed One, there was a tank not far from the town and there was a crab living in the tank. The young people of the town came out from the town and arriving at the tank, caught hold of crab and place it on land. That crab was clumsily raising its hand and feet and waving them about. Every time the crab raised its hand or feet, the young people had it smashed off by beating it with sticks or broken pieces of pottery. With its limbs thus crushed, the crab could not make its way back to the tank. In a similar manner, the Blessed One had destroyed all the thorns and spikes of Saccaka's wrong view, pastures (haunts) of wrong views, and movements of his wrong views. Thus there is no more possibility for Saccaka to approach the Blessed One again to dispute over doctrinal matters."
While Dummukha, the Licchavi prince was addressing the Blessed One, other Licchavi princes were anxiously awaiting their turn to denounce the wanderer Saccaka by more illustrative stories. Seeing the dangerous situation developing in which the Licchavi would be heaping disgrace on him, one after another Saccaka decided to stop Dummukha from marking further remark. "Hold on Dummukha, we are having our discussions with the Venerable Gotama, not with you. "Then he addressed the Blessed One, "The Venerable Gotama, let those be, what we had said and what others have said. I wish to bring them to a close. There have been such random talks."
Then he asked the Blessed One how one had to go about (practise) in the Buddha's dispensation to reach the stage where sceptical doubts are overcome and courage of conviction attained. The Blessed One taught him that one has to engage oneself in the practice of meditation until one attains the stage when one can see, with Vipassanā insight and knowledge of the Path, that the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa which are liable to be misconceived as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self" are in reality "This is not mine. This is I am not, This is not my self.'
Saccaka wanted to know also how to practise to become an Arahat. The Buddha told him that, after realization that the aggregates of "nāma and rūpa are not mine, This is I am not, This is not my self," one has to continue on practicing until one is free of clinging and attachments.
What comes out of this disputatious arguments of Saccaka with the Blessed One is that there is a type of wrong belief which holds all the five aggregates are self and that those who cling to atta always think disparagingly of those who believe in the doctrine of Non-self.
Further there is another type of wrong belief which holds only one of the aggregates to be Non-self. This is evident from the atta clinging of Sāti which we have described in part IV and also from vedaka atta clinging as well as kāraka atta clinging.
REFUTING THE ATTA WHICH IS SAID TO BE APART FROM THE FIVE AGGREGATES
There appears in modern times, still another type of atta belief. As described in a book on Indian Philosophy, this new type of atta clinging has no reference to the five aggregates; it lies apart from them. This must be rejected as just an opinion, for in the absence of the five aggregates, there can be no atta clinging. Consider for a moment: if that atta has no rūpa, it cannot be experienced in any form or substance. If nāma still exists, there can be atta clinging to be similar to the attachment of the common worldling to the formless realm. But if that nāma is not existent, then there is nothing to be attachment to as one's atta. If there is no vedanā, too, there can be no clinging to feelings, pleasant or unpleasant. In the absence of saññā, no attachment can arise, to recognizing or remembering. Having no consciousness nothing can be known; and since there is no saṅkhāra, such as cetanā etc., that atta cannot have anything done. Therefore that type of atta will exist only in name; it will be of no practical use; even no description of it can be given. Thus, although they assert that their atta is apart from the five aggregates, actually it is obvious that their atta clinging is one of the five aggregates or on many of the five aggregates, or on all of the five aggregates. It is an impossibility to have any clinging on atta apart from or outside of the five aggregates.
Thus in the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, we find the words, 'Rūpa is not self; vedanā in not self; saññā is not self; saṅkhāra is not self; viññāṇa is not self' which remove and refute all types of clinging, doing away with the possibility of atta clinging that is said to exist apart from the five aggregates, and atta clinging for two kinds of aggregates, three kinds, four kinds or all five kinds of aggregates.
If rūpa is clung to as atta, then the remaining four aggregates such as vedanā etc form part of that atta, its attribute, its support and are also clung to as such; or if one of the other aggregates such as vedanā is clung to as atta then the remaining four are also clung to as part of that atta as its attribute and its support. All these types of atta clinging are refuted by the statement "rūpa is not self etc." Now the Blessed One had talked fully about Anatta, but in order to explain it further in terms of the characteristics of anicca, and dukkha, he continued:
"Tam kim maññathā Bhikkhave rūpam niccam vā aniccām vāti. aniccam Bhante. Yam panā'niccam dukkham vā tam sukham vāti. Dukkham Bhante. Yam pana'niccam dukkham viparināma dhammam kallam nu tam sammupassitum etam mama eso 'ham asmi eso me attāti. No h'etam Bhante."
"Bhikkhus, what do you think of that? (I am about to ask; my answer in any way you think fit). Is rūpa permanent or impermanent?"
"Not permanent, the Blessed One"
The Blessed One asked them whether rūpa is permanent or not permanent. The group of five Bhikkhus replied, 'Not permanent', and answer which can be given from knowledge gained by ordinary hearsay. But what the Blessed One wanted was an answer based on their own knowledge. And the group of five Bhikkhus having become all; Sotāpanas, had seen the truth and their answers were thus out of their own knowledge in accordance with the wishes of the Blessed One.
The Yogī of this center, who have been practicing the meditation, can also answer with their own knowledge. When the Yogī takes note of the actions of rising, he perceives the phenomenon of extension, pressure and motion in the abdomen quite vividly. This phenomenon of extension, was non-existent before; it becomes manifested just as the abdomen beings to take a rise. This is then the rising of the phenomenon ... its becoming. The beginning of the phenomenon is thus the arising of the abdomen which comes under observation, and duly noted. When the rising comes to an end, there is no more extension, pressure and motion in the abdomen. They are said to terminate, disappear, cease, pass away. Thus while the rising of the abdomen is being noted, the Yogī also perceives this rising to pass away, to disappear. This dissolution following on the heel of rising, becoming, is the sure characteristic of impermanence.
Realizing this nature of impermanence in the course of noting the rising and falling of the abdomen is true insight into the nature of impermanence, Aniccānupassanā ñāṇa. This knowledge of the impermanence accruing from noting the beginning and end of each arising constitutes Sammasana ñāṇa, the first step in the series of ten ñāṇas, developed through Vipassanā meditation. This Samāsana ñāṇa, sees through only the beginning and the end of phenomenon of the same types of nāma, rūpa; the fine details of what happens in between cannot be perceived yet. It is just the knowledge of impermanence which accrues from perceiving the becoming and dissolution of the continuing processes, presently happening.
When noting the phenomenon of rising, the beginning of the rise is perceived as well as its end. To know the beginning of the rise is to know the becoming; to know the end of the rise is to know its dissolution of each arising, there can be no misconception on it to be permanent. It is definitely impermanent.
When noting the phenomenon of falling, the contracting motion of the abdomen is distinctly seen. It is the vāyo element in motion. In seeing the beginning of the falling motion of the stomach and its end, the phenomenon of vāyo element is being seen. The falling rūpa was not in existence at the time of extension, only when the rising motion comes to an end, that the falling rūpa comes into being. Then finally the falling rūpa vanishes away, disappears instantly. So this falling rūpa is also definitely not permanent.
WHY IT IS CALLED IMPERMANENT
Aniccam khayathen .. impermanent because of its nature of coming to an end. In accordance with this definition, the falling of abdomen, manifested by the contracting motion, comes to an end, ceases. Hence, it is impermanent.
According to another Commentary definition .. Hutvā Abhāvato aniccā. Non-existent previously, it comes into being and then dissolves, perishes away. Hence it is impermanent.
While making note, 'falling,' 'falling,' the beginning and end of the phenomenon of falling is perceived, and the Yogī realizes its impermanent nature. This is true Aniccānupassanā ñāṇa, that is understanding the nature of impermanence, at the stage of samāsana ñāṇa by seeing the becoming and dissolution of the 'continuous processes presently happening', At the level of Udayabbaya ñāṇa during the interval of the one cycle of rising and falling, three, four, five distinct moments of beginning and ending of the phenomenon can be noted. When the Yogī comes to the bhaṅga stage, during the interval of one cycle of rising and falling, numerous moments of dissolution will be seen to flit by. The material body of rising and falling, being subjected to incessant dissolution is indeed not permanent.
When the motion of bending or stretching the limbs are heedfully noted, as bending, bending, stretching, stretching the beginning and end of each bending or stretching is distinctly seen. It is seen thus because the respective motion are being carefully noted. A person not engaged in noting may not be aware of the bending or stretching of his limbs, he will not perceive the beginning of the motion separately from their ends. He will be under the impression that the hand which was there before bending or stretching still remains there till after the motion.
When bending or stretching, it will be seen that there is a slow motion of the limbs gradually passing from one moment to another moment. At every occasion of bending or stretching, the beginning of the extending and moving is the coming into being (becoming) of the material quality of vāyo element; the end of the extending and moving is the dissolution of the vāyo element. When noting the bending, to know the beginning and ending of each bending is to know the arising and dissolution of vāyo element. Similarly, when noting the stretching to know the beginning and end of each stretching is to know the arising and dissolution of vāyo 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 vāyo element whose characteristics are extension and movement. The gradual slow motion of the limb definitely brings out the nature of impermanence which cannot, however, he realized without taking heedful note of each action.
While going, the Yogī who is taking note as 'right stepping out; left stepping out, knows the beginning and end of each step. This is knowing the arising and dissolution of the vāyo element which is responsible for extension and movement of the legs. Similarly the Yogī who takes note of the movements of the legs in raising, steeping out, dropping down knows separately the beginning and end of movements .. raising, stepping out, dropping down. This is also knowing the arising and dissolution of the vāyo 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 vāyo element. Thus the vāyo element, responsible for movement of step, is arising and passing away with each step and is, therefore, impermanent.
When noting the feeling of touch that may be felt anywhere on the body, knowing the arising of sensation of touch and its disappearance is knowing the arising and dissolution of the material quality involved in touch sensation. The Yogī knows the arising and passing of the sensitive material quality of his own body as well as that of the tactile body. He realizes the freshly arising material bodies are not stable, but impermanent because he has seen their incessant arising and passing away by actual noting.
When hearing and taking note as 'hearing, hearing', the Yogī notices the sound to be freshly arising and disappearing. This is knowing the arising and dissolution of sound. Thus the sound which arises every time sound is heard is not permanent. Along with this material quality of the sound, the material quality of the ear on which sound makes its impression also arises a fresh and disappears with the sound. So it may be said that once the arising and dissolution of sound is perceived, the arising and dissolution of the material quality of ear is also known. Thus the Yogī who takes note of sound as 'hearing, hearing,' every time a sound is heard, and knows the impermanent nature of the sound, knows at the same time the impermanent nature of the material quality of the ear as well. The whistle from the rice mill or the howling of dogs are generally regarded to be heard at one continuous stretch, but to the Yogī whose Vipassanā insight has grown strong, those sounds appear in minute portions, section by section, one after another. The Yogī therefore, realizes that material quality of sound also is arising and perishing in a very fast pace.
Likewise the Yogī who is noting 'seeing, seeing' at the time of seeing an object knows, when his vipassanā ñāṇa gets highly developed, that eye consciousness and seeing the objects are fast appearing and disappearing. Then the visible form which arises a fresh and perishes instantly are permanent. The material quality of eye which arises and perishes simultaneously with the visible form is also impermanent.
While eating, the Yogī who notes knowing the taste as 'knowing knowing' knows, when the taste which has thus appeared, disappears. The taste which appears afresh and disappears is, therefore, impermanent. The impermanent nature of the taste is very prominent. However pleasant the taste is, it remains only for a short while on the tongue before it disappears. Just like the taste the material quality of the tongue in which the taste manifests itself disappears simultaneously. Thus when the taste is seen to be impermanent, the material quality of the tongue is also seen at the same time to be impermanent.
The Yogī who keeps note of smell knows that the smell keeps on appearing and disappearing, all the time renewing itself. Smell, which comes into being and gets dissolved instantly, is therefore impermanent and the material quality of the nose which arises and vanishes simultaneously with the smell is also impermanent. When thinking, or ideation occurs while noting the rise and fall of 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 thinking is based disappears also. This material base which arises and vanishes with every act of thinking is non-enduring, impermanent.
What we have stated above concerns with material qualities which can be stated to be impermanent by the Yogī who has realized the knowledge personally by nothing constantly the phenomena of the aggregates. These material qualities relate to the whole of one's body; they arise and dissolve, renewing themselves at every moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting and thinking. Just like these material qualities from inside one's body, the material qualities from the body of other people are also simultaneously arising and vanishing. For instance noting the sound as 'hearing, hearing' the material quality of sound is perishing so also other material qualities in one's body as well as those outside in the whole world are also disappearing simultaneously.
Thus the Blessed One asked of these material bodies which are impermanent, because they are dissolving all the time, "Is rūpa permanent or impermanent?" The group of five Bhikkhus who had personal knowledge of their impermanent nature, replied, 'Impermanent, Blessed One.' We would also ask of this audience, 'Is rūpa in your body permanent or impermanent?' Impermanent, Sir.' 'Is rūpa in other people's body, permanent or impermanent?' 'Impermanent, Sir.' 'Is rūpa in the whole world, permanent or impermanent?' 'Impermanent, Sir.'
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF IMPERMANENCE
These are questions concerning the characteristics of impermanence. When one knows the characteristics of impermanence thoroughly, one understands easily the characteristics of dukkha and anatta. The characteristics of impermanence is that it does not endure. The Commentary defines it as 'Hutvā Abhāvākāro Anicca lakkhanam .. not being in existences at first, it comes into being and then it ceases to exist, disappears, dissolves away .. these are the characteristics of impermanence. The streak of lightening in the sky, every one knows. It does not exist before; then it comes into being, signified by a flash. But it does not last long, it disappears instantly. The phenomenon of lightening provides all the characteristics of impermanence. Whatever arises afresh to disappear soon is said to have the characteristics of impermanence.
"Having arisen, things cease to exist. This is the sign of Impermanence."
The Yogī who keeps on noting when seeing, hearing etc, sees things arising and ceasing to exist. Only when he has acquired this personal knowledge of the characteristics of impermanent, is the true knowledge of aniccānupassanā ñāṇa developed in him. Seeing dissolution while noting, the Yogī knows that it is impermanent. This knowledge is the Aniccānupassanā ñāṇa. In order to help develop this ñāṇa had the Blessed One asked, 'Is rūpa permanent or impermanent?' We have fairly fully dealt with this question of impermanence. We shall now go on with the question dealing with the characteristics of Dukkha.
"That which is impermanent, Is it unsatisfactory or satisfactory?" asked the Blessed One. The five Bhikkhus answered, 'Unsatisfactory, the Blessed One.'
TWO KINDS OF DUKKHA
There are two kinds of dukkha, suffering or unsatisfactoriness. The first kind relates to unbearable pain or suffering, the second kind is dukkha because it is terrible, objectionable, disgusting, repulsive. The impermanence because of incessant arising and vanishing is not of the painful kind of suffering. It belongs to the second kind in accordance with the Commentary definition: 'It is suffering because it is terrible, the phenomenon of incessant arising and perishing is terrible; fearsome, or synonymously with the Myanmar word's not being good.' The question, "that which is impermanent, is it suffering or happiness?, dukkha or sukkha ?" is the same as "Is it bad or good?" The group of five Bhikkhus answered, 'It is dukkha;' in Myanmar idiom 'It is not good.'
The reason why it is dukkha, why it is not good, is that it is ever arising and perishing, impermanent, and so it is terrible. People imagines it to be sukha, good because it appears to be enduring, stable. When they realize that it does not endure even a second, and is constantly dissolving, they can no longer see any sukha or goodness in it.
We depend for our existence on the aggregates which are in dissolution all the time. If at any moment, the aggregates are not renewed, we die which is a terrible thing to know. It is just like living in an old dilapidated building liable to collapse at any time. In the case of such building, there is the possibility that it may last for days, months, or even years before coming down; where as the nāma, rūpa aggregates inside the body cannot endure even for a second. They are undergoing dissolution all the time and, therefore more terrible. Hence it is termed suffering, dukkha.
"Objectionable, undependable, not good at all."
CHARACTERISTICS OF DUKKHA
What are the characteristics of Dukkha? According to the Commentary, Abhinha sampaṭipilanākāro dukkha lakkhanam: Incessant, unceasing oppression is the characteristics mark of Dukkha. Here unceasing oppression means arising and passing away incessantly of aggregates of rūpa and nāma which are subject to constant arising and perishing, are regarded as dukkha, things which are 'not good.'
"Oppression by incessant origination and dissolution is the characteristic mark of dukkha. "
Seeing the sign of dukkha by personal experience and realizing them to be terrible suffering, 'not good', objectionable, not dependable is true Dukkhānupassanā ñāṇa. "
HOW THE DUKKHĀNUPASSANĀ ÑĀṆA IS DEVELOPED
The Yogī while noting constantly the phenomenon of nāma, rūpa, starting, from the rising and falling, bending, stretching, lifting, stepping, dropping, the origination and dissolution taking place incessantly. Similarly in noting every instance of touching hearing, seeing, tasting, the origination and dissolution is seen. He begins to see the aggregates of rūpa and nāma being oppressed by processes of origination and dissolution. There is possibility of death at any moment; hence the oppression is seen as a terrible dukkha. This is true Dukkhānupassanā ñāṇa."
In order to help develop this ñāṇa, the Blessed One had asked, 'That which is impermanent, is it dukkha or sukha ?' In the paragraph stating, 'Rūpa is not self, it is definitely mentioned. 'Since rūpa is not self, it tends to affliction.' Therefore it is very plain that rūpa is terrible suffering, and the five Bhikkhus had given the answer, 'Dukkha, the Blessed One.'
Having shown in this way that rūpa is Anicca and dukkha, the Blessed One went on to urge the Bhikkhus not to regard the rūpa as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self.'
"That which is impermanent; suffering, unsatisfactory and subject to change, is it fitting or proper to regard it as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self?" The five Bhikkhus answered, 'Not proper, the Blessed One.'
CLINGING WITH CRAVING, 'THIS IS MINE.'
Of the above three forms of grasping, 'This is mine' is clinging with craving; 'This I am' is clinging with conceit; 'This is my self' is clinging with wrong view. When one has taken delight in an object with craving, even if the object does not belong to oneself, it is grasped with craving as if it is one's own. Thus going into the bazaar, seeing delightful objects, one takes delight in them as if one already owns them. Jackets and longyis we fancy, we put them on in imagination; the shoes too, we wear them in imagination, as if they were one's own already. We grasp every thing, animate or inanimate, as if one's own if we fancy them. Therefore, the Blessed One asked, whether it was wise to grasp and take delight, as 'This is mine.' In things that are impermanent, suffering and subject to change, meaning whether it is proper to delight in terrible suffering.
The rūpas in one's person are constantly originating and dissolving; if one sees this phenomenon of arising and dissolution as it really is, one would be frightened just like having to live in the dilapidated building as said above. Even though feeling well and all right at the present moment, a change for the worse may take place depending on conditions and circumstances. Once it is realized that it is not enduring even for a moment, always changing and therefore, terrible suffering, how could one take delight in it? Would any one choose with great pleasure as one's life partner, some one who is going to become a patient within hours or days or who is going to die soon. No one would take delight in such course of action if he really knows what is about to happen.
Likewise the Yogī who sees the unceasing process of origination and dissolution of the aggregates finds only terrible suffering in them. Finding them as such, the Yogī has no desire to grasp his rūpa as 'This is mine. The group of five Bhikkhus, therefore, answered that it is not proper to regard the rūpa as 'This is mine.' 'This is an account of the questions and answers on how, having seen the characteristics of dukkha, it is not proper to take delight in it as sukha, happiness, some thing that is 'good'.
CLINGING WITH CONCEIT ......'THIS I AM'.
To consider rūpa as 'This I am' is to cling to it with conceit. When one has good eyes, ears etc and can see, hear well etc one begins to take pride in them: 'I have good eyes, ears; I look beautiful; I have a pleasant voice; I am well; I am strong; 'Is it proper to cling to rūpa, in this manner, with conceit?
Conceit is developed with regard to one's possessions when there is misconception that they are enduring and permanent. The material qualities of eyes, ears, visible forms, are wrongly held to be permanent and consequently vanity is built round them. Take for instance the case of a person who has a cache of wealth, gold, silver etc hidden in a certain place. The owner is full of pride over his wealth. But when he knows that his cache has been robbed and he no longer owns any rich property the bubble of his conceit gets busted.
Likewise, clinging to the material qualities of eyes, etc., which become manifest at the moment of seeing, hearing etc., and thinking they are still in existence, conceit is developed over them. For the Yogī who is always taking note, he knows that they all vanish after they have arisen and finds no excuse to show pride as 'I have good eyes, I am beautiful.' Therefore when the Bhikkhus were asked, 'Is it proper, to regard rūpa as 'This I am,' their reply was, 'Not proper, the Blessed One.' the Blessed One let it be known by means of this question and answer that there is conceit when things are conceived as permanent; 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 held fast when there is belief that the rūpa in one's person is ever lasting, and amenable to one's control. When knowledge arises it is unstable, rising and vanishing all the time and suffering because it is unenduring and subject to change, there is no more ground to cling to rūpa as 'Self, as a living entity. When the Yogī knows that rūpa cannot be controlled:' Let every thing be pleasant, good; let nothing unpleasant or bad happen, let all good rūpas remain permanent,' there is nothing for him to cling to as self. Thus to the question, 'Is it fitting to regard rūpa as 'This is my self,' the five Bhikkhus replied'. No, the Blessed One. 'With this question, the Blessed One made it clear that, when it is known that it is changing every instant, rūpa is to be clung to as self when it is known thus, there is no more clinging.' According to this question, 'changeableness at every instant' should also be taken as a characteristic mark of Non-self.
To recapitulate, we shall ask the question to which the audience here should provide answers as they think fit.
(a) Is rūpa permanent or impermanent? Impermanent, Sir.
(b) That which is impermanent, is it dukkha or sukha? Dukkha, Sir. Is impermanent a good thing or bad thing. A bad thing, Sir.
(c) Is it fitting to regard that which is impermanent, suffering, subject to change as 'This is mine' and take delight in it? .. No Sir; 'to get conceited believing it, 'This I am' .. No Sir; or to cling to it, 'This is my self' .. No Sir.
We shall also recite the questions asked by the Blessed One and the answers provided by the group of five Bhikkhus.
"Bhikkhus, what do you think of this? Is rūpa permanent or impermanent? Impermanent, Sir. Now, that which is impermanent, is it dreadful suffering or delightful happiness? Dreadful suffering the Blessed One. Now, that which is impermanent, unsatisfactory, suffering, subject to change, is it proper to regard that as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self', Indeed not that the Blessed One."
"Is feeling permanent or impermanent? .. Indeed not the Blessed One."
"Is perception permanent or impermanent? .. Indeed not the Blessed One."
"Are mental formations permanent or impermanent? ..... Indeed not, the Blessed One."
"Is consciousness permanent or impermanent? .. Indeed not the Blessed One."
We have dealt with the characteristics of impermanent in the first part of today's lecture; in the latter portion of today's discourse, we have gone over all the three characteristics stated in the Anattalakhaṇa Sutta in the form of questions and answers. Our exposition on the aggregate of rūpa is fairly complete. We shall deal with the questions and answers concerning the aggregates of feeling etc, in our next discourse. We shall stop here today.
May you all, by virtue of having given respectful attention to this discourse on Anattalakhaṇa Sutta, attain and realize soon the Nibbāna, by means of the Path and Fruition of your wish.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the Fifth Part of the Discourse on
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the new moon day of Wāso and the 8th waxing day of Wāgaung, 1325 M.E.)
We have already delivered five lectures on the Anattalakhaṇa Sutta. We have so far explained the teaching on how the five aggregates are not self and have dealt with the three characteristics concerning rūpa. We shall go on to the questions and answers on whether vedanā is permanent or impermanent.
VEDANĀ IS NOT PERMANENT
"Vedanā niccā vā aniccā vāti aniccā, bhante. Yam pana' niccam dukkham vā tam sukham vāti. Dukkham bhante. Yam panā' niccam dukkham viparināma dhamman kāllam nu tam samanupassitum' etam mama eso' ham-asmiī eso me attatī, no hi' etam bhante."
The Blessed One asked: 'Is vedanā permanent or impermanent?' 'Not permanent,' replied the group of the five Bhikkhus.
We have spoken about vedanā to a certain extent in the previous sections, but as it is its turn to be considered according to the Sutta, we shall explain a little more a about it.
Feeling is of three kinds: feeling of pleasantness or happiness; feeling of unpleasantness or unhappiness; feeling of neither pleasantness nor unpleasantness. Ordinary common worldlings regard all these three types of feeling as being self, living substance, enduring, permanent. This form of clinging in called Nivāsī atta clinging and vedaka atta clinging.
Nivāsī atta clinging is belief in a permanent entity or self in one's person. Ordinary people believes that there exists a living entity, self, in one's body from the time of conception to the time of death. Some believe that it continued on enduring even after death, this is Nivāsī atta clinging.
This same permanent entity in the body is the one that feels the sensation pleasant or unpleasant. This Self feels pleasant in mind and body; the same self feel unpleasant and uncomfortable on certain occasions. Thus they believe the feelings last forever, enduring. Actually, when feeling pleasant, there is no unpleasant feeling; no neutral feeling; when feeling unpleasant, there is no pleasant nor neutral feeling. Similarly when feeling the neutral feeling, there is no pleasant nor unpleasant feeling. There is no feeling which is ever lasting. Whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, it arises depending on its conditions to last for only a moment and then disappears.
The uninitiated person who is unable to follow the feelings as they arise is liable to have the impression that all the three feelings are simultaneous co-existent. Thus while is feeling a painful sensation in the body, he hears some glad news and feels happy over it. Or he may be enjoying a pleasant sensation in the body when he happens to think about an unhappy event and feels unhappy. On these occasions, it is usually believed that both pleasant and unpleasant sensations are being felt at the same time, simultaneously. It is believed so, because one lacks the ability to distinguish between two minds or two feelings, the preceding one as distinct from the following one. In reality, the feelings arise only one at a time one after another.
Therefore when the Yogī who is constantly engaged in noting the phenomenon of rising and falling notices the appearance of a painful feeling inside his body, he should give concentrated attention to it and note it continuously as 'painful, painful'. If his concentration is strong enough, the unbearable pain keeps decreasing in intensity even as he is taking note of it. It will finally disappear. For some, the pain will vanish completely in a short time as if removed by hand. When there is no pain nor pleasant feeling to take note of, the Yogī reverts back to noting the usual, ordinary phenomenon of rise and fall of the abdomen. This amount to contemplating the neutral feeling. While engaged thus in contemplating the neutral feeling, if pleasant feeling arises, attention should be switched on to it. Similarly attention should be given to the unpleasant feeling if it happens to arise too. Taking note of the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings, in this manner, as they arise personal knowledge ensures that these feelings are not everlasting. This is knowing discriminately each kind of feeling as it occurs in the 'continuity of the present'.
The Yogī who has advanced up to the stage of udayabbaya ñāṇa and bhaṅga ñāṇa while taking note of the pleasant feeling finds such pleasant feeling vanishing and coming to an end section by section, bit by bit, the ordinary phenomenon of rise and fall is also found to be passing away section by section, bit by bit. When pleasant feeling and neutral feeling appear in turn, they are not separated and not as one continuous phenomenon or process. Similarly with unpleasant feeling appearing along with neutral feeling, they are noted as two distinct feelings. The Yogī observing in this manner perceives each feeling or sensation to arise and disappear instantly which drives home the fact that vedanā is not everlasting. This is knowing the phenomenon section by section in terms of the 'moment present'. The Yogīs who are watching the phenomena of rising, falling, feeling painful are doing so, in order to see each phenomenon, section by section, bit by bit, in its 'momentary present.'
Therefore, the Yogī who is watching the phenomena as they arise at the six doors while noting 'seeing, hearing, touching, thinking, etc, perceives well how the pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling, neutral feeling with respect to seeing etc., vanish, disappear immediately after they have arisen. Similarly, all the feelings with respect to hearing, thinking etc. Thus the Yogī realizes with the personal knowledge that all the vedanās are of the nature of impermanence.
The group of five Bhikkhus, having reached the stage of Sotāpana through contemplating in a similar manner, gave an answer to the question. 'Is vedanā permanent or impermanent?' they reply with their own personal knowledges, Not permanent, Sir.'
We will also ask of our audience similar questions which they may answer as they seem it fit.
'Is the unbearable pain in the body, permanent or impermanent?'
'It is not permanent because the pain was not here before. It arose just at that moment. Did it not? ... 'Yes, Sir.'
'While noting that pain as 'painful, painful' 'It vanished away? Did it not?' ... 'It did, Sir.'
'For the Yogī whose concentration is getting quite strong, each sensation of pain disappears with each noting as 'painful' As one sensation disappears, a fresh one arises only to vanish away instantly. It is not perceived thus? ... Yes, it is perceived in this manner, Sir."
'When noting with very good concentration, some good feelings may be observed appearing in the body. When these feelings are noted as 'good, good', they disappeared quickly. Didn't they? ... They did, Sir.'
Disappearing thus, are these good feelings permanent or impermanent? ... 'Impermanent, Sir.'
'Sometimes unhappiness, worries make their appearance; when these are noted as 'unhappiness' as 'worries', they disappeared, didn't they? So are they permanent or impermanent? ... Impermanent, Sir'.
'Sometimes, happiness will arise; when noted as 'gladness happiness,' it will disappear. Is it permanent or impermanent? ... Impermanent, Sir.'
'When seeing a pleasant sight, there arises an agreeable feeling; this also disappears when noted. Is it permanent or impermanent? ... Impermanent, Sir.'
In a similar manner, an unpleasant sight causes a disagreeable feeling disappears when noted. Pleasant to unpleasant feeling which arise from hearing, smelling or tasting also disappear when noted. Are these feelings permanent or impermanent? ... Impermanent Sir.
'When noting, neither particularly, pleasant nor unpleasant, just the ordinary objects of contemplation such as the rising and falling of abdomen, the feeling observed is a neutral one, which also disappears with every noting, Is that permanent or impermanent? ... Impermanent, Sir.'
'All the three feelings pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, are they permanent or impermanent? ... Impermanent, Sir.'
When these three feelings pleasant, unpleasant and neutral are perceived to be impermanent, it is realized too that they are suffering, not self just a phenomenon. Perceive them to be suffering and not self, the Blessed One continued to question: 'That which is impermanent, is that suffering or happiness?' 'Suffering, the Blessed One.'
We have dealt considerable fully on this previously; therefore, it needs not much further elaboration. People have liking for pleasant sensations or so called happiness, thinking they are enduring, everlasting. Seeing them dissolving fast every moment, not lasting even for the tenth of a second, they lose their passion for them. Just for the sake of enjoying the so called happiness, they have to go in pursuit of it, not for one hour, not for one day, one year but their whole life. While in pursuit of this happiness, people meet their death. There is nothing one can rely upon. Even if the happiness one is seeking for is not obtained, one has to find means of avoiding unhappiness, unpleasantness, that is, of maintaining oneself in neutral condition of neither happiness nor unhappiness. Even as the neutral feeling of neither happiness nor unhappiness is being sought for, physical pain and mental anguish may arise causing suffering. And they can appear because the happy feeling and the mental feeling are not permanent. Thus the impermanent happy feeling and the neutral feeling are also not dependable. To go after them is suffering; when they disappear it is suffering too because unhappy feeling comes in to take their place. Especially so after the disappearance of the happy feeling, one may be plunged into depths of unhappiness. Take for instance the plight of parents who have been given delight and happiness by the presence of their children, when suddenly deprived of them through death; or of a united, happy family when suddenly bereaved of dear ones of the family through death or separation; or of some one who has been happy with his wealth and affluence, when deprived of them. They will all become subjected to intense unhappiness, which may cost some of them their lives even. Thus vedanā is terrifying because of its nature of impermanence.
Coming to the next paragraph of the Pāḷi text:
"That which is impermanent, suffering and subject to change, is it proper to regard it as "This is mine, This I am, This is my self." It is not, the Blessed One. This is the same type of the questions and answers employed when explaining rūpas . The difference is that in the case of rūpa, the term involves not only the material qualities inside one's person, but also all those external animate and inanimate objects too. As to the feeling the main thing is internal one, which one grasps as one's own. In feeling of happiness, sukha he takes delight with craving: "This is mine." The neutral feeling, being devoid of unpleasantness, has the nature of a happy feeling; although attachment to it is not so strong, as with the proper happy feeling, still there is taking of delight to some extent in the very fact of being neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but just neutral. The unpleasant feeling is no doubt, undesirable as such, but thinking 'It is I who is suffering,' there is still grasping for it as Self.
Attachment to the feeling in this way is brought about by ignorance of the real nature of impermanence, suffering and subjection to change. The Yogī who is taking note of the feeling as it occurs knows at once the oppressive nature of the feeling. What is the difference between the Yogī and the ordinary person with regard to their knowledge about feeling? There is indeed a very great difference. The ordinary person perceives his feeling in terms of Self: "I suffer; I feel happy; I feel pain while delighting in happiness; if this pain goes away, I will feel happy.' So he views his feelings all in terms of self, whereas for the Yogī, he knows, from the very outset, there is just continuous phenomena of the aggregates arising and perishing incessantly. When unhappy feeling appears, the Yogī perceives it as an undesirable intrusion occurring in the continuous process of nāma and rūpa and renewing, itself afresh. The Yogī perceives it as another process of arising and perishing superimposed on the first one he has been observing. From its very first appearance, the Yogī recognizes its oppressive nature just like a thorn which comes to be embedded in the flesh.
The happy feeling appears to be pleasant, good while it is happening; but the effort that has to be put in, in search of the pleasurable sensation, is suffering itself. If an akusala act happens to be performed while in the pursuit of pleasurable feeling, suffering has to be faced in the apāya state to which one will be doomed for the akusala acts. Taking delight in the pleasurable sensations that arise will keep on renewing the cycle of existences, resulting in suffering of old age, death. When that happy feeling disappears, the attachment to it will give rise to intense unhappiness. Therefore, happy feeling is to be regard as suffering. We have already explained this as well as how neutral feeling too is regarded as suffering because of its impermanence.
The Vedanā Samyutta Pāḷi Canon describes how these feelings should be noted and regarded:
Three types of feeling seen as they really are.
"Yo sukham dukkhato adda, dukkha maddakkhi sallato, adukkha ma sukham santam, addakkhin am aniccato, sa ve sammaddas abhikkhu, parijānati vedanā."
"The Bhikkhu has seen the happy feeling as suffering; the unhappy feeling as a thorn and the neutral feeling as suffering too because of its impermanence."
"The Bhikkhu has seen the feelings rightly add well (so as not to give rise to notions of permanence, happiness and self) and comprehensively (knowing that should be known)."
The Yogī who is all the time engaged in noting sees the unpleasant feeling as an oppression like a thorn; the pleasant feeling as frightful suffering having to pursue after it and because of the pain it causes when it is absent. The neutral feeling is seen as suffering because of its impermanence and the effort or volitional activities required to maintain it. Thus when asked whether it is proper to regard vedanā as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self.,' the group of five Bhikkhus replied, 'Not indeed, the Blessed One.'
We would also ask questions in accordance with the Pāḷi Canon; the audience may give their replies as they deem fit,
1. "Is pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling, permanent or Impermanent?" "Impermanent, Sir."
2. "That which is impermanent, is it suffering, or happiness?" "Suffering, Sir."
3. "That which is impermanent, suffering, subject to change, is it fitting to regard it as 'This is mine, and take delight in it?" "No, Sir." "Or to get conceited by regarding it as 'This I am.' Or to be attached to it as 'This is my self?'" "No, Sir."
Vedanā which is impermanent because of incessant arising and vanishing, suffering and subject to change is taught not to be viewed as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self' so as not to see vedanā as being permanent, as being 'This is mine, This I am, thus causing the arising of craving and conceit. For the common worldling, not to cause the wrong view 'This is my self.
That vedanā is anattā is explained in terms of characteristics of anicca and dukkha. This is not self is very clear from its nature of oppressing, the characteristic mark of terrible dukkha.
We have dealt sufficiently with Vedanā. We shall now go on to considering Saññā, perception starting with the Pāḷi Text:
IMPERMANENCE OF SAÑÑĀ, PERCEPTION
"Saññā niccā vā aniccā vāti. Aniccā, Bhante. Yam panā niccam, dukkham vā tam sukham vāti, dukkham, Bhante. Yam pananiccam dukkham viparināma dhammam kallam nu tam samanupassitum etam mama eso h'asmi eso me attāti, no hetam Bhante."
"Is saññā, perception, permanent or impermanent", asked the Blessed One.
"Impermanent, the Blessed One."
Saññā is of six kinds: Recognizing and remembering visible objects; recognizing and remembering sound; recognizing and remembering smell; recognizing and remembering taste; recognizing and remembering touch and recognizing and remembering what one has thought about. It is saññā which remembers object one has seen before; saññā is essential in learning and remembering what one is studying. A good saññā will remember for long anything seen or heard only once. This retentiveness is wrongly taken to be everlasting, to be good, to be self.
But saññā having recognized what it has seen, vanishes; what are recognized later are the function of the saññā which arise later. The same applies to hearing etc. What is heard and remembered first vanished away, followed by what is heard and recognized later. The Yogī who is taking note of everything seen or heard perceives that seeing and recognizing hearing and recognizing, the two processes vanish together. Knowing this, he concludes that saññā is also impermanent. The group of five Bhikkhus, also knowing the same fact, answered when asked, whether saññā is permanent or impermanent, 'Impermanent, Sir.' Because they found the words of the Blessed One, even while being heard and recognized by them are vanishing away rapidly:
"Furthermore, that which is impermanent, is that suffering or happiness?" "Suffering Sir." "Satisfactory or unsatisfactory?" "Unsatisfactory, Sir." "Now, that which is impermanent, unsatisfactory, subject to change, is it proper to regard it as "This is mine, This I am, This is my self." "Not proper, Sir."
These are the same types of questions and answers we have discussed before. It is necessary to know only how saññā is attached to with craving, conceit and wrong view. Generally people who cannot contemplate on the phenomenon of nāma, rūpa like saññā (or act of recognition by saññā) and are pleased with it, clinging to it as 'This is mine'. He thinks he has better retentive memory than others and is proud of it: This is clinging by conceit, 'This I am'. He thinks also that every act of seeing, hearing is recognized and remembered by him which is atta clinging to saññā, 'This is my self'.
Actually, the saññā which retains every object as seen, so as not to forget it, is impermanent as it arises and vanishes instantly. The Yogī who is ever watchful knows saññā to be impermanent because it is seen arising and vanishing instantly; unpleasurable suffering because of its impermanence; saññā may retain memories of abominable, terrible things and therefore, oppressing and suffering. It does not exist in one form but keeps on changing. Therefore saññā is after all not desirable as something pleasant, nothing to take pride in as everlasting, nothing to cling to as self, a living entity. Therefore, the group of five Bhikkhus replied, it was not proper to regard saññā as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self.' We shall now ask question pertaining to saññā; you may answer in any away you deem fit.
1. "Is saññā, perception, permanent or impermanent?" "Impermanent, Sir."
2. "That what is not permanent, is it satisfactory or not satisfactory, Not satisfactory, Sir. Good or bad?" "Not good, Sir."
3. "That which is not permanent, suffering, subject to change, is it proper to delight in it taking it as 'This is mine?" - "Not proper, Sir." "To take pride in it, thinking This I am?" - "Not proper, Sir." "To cling to it wrongly as This is myself?" - "Not proper, Sir."
This question is asked so as not to let you cling with craving and pride to the impermanent, suffering, changing saññā as 'This is mine, This I am.' Also not to let the common worldling cling to it with wrong view of self.
We have dealt sufficiently with saññā. We shall go on to explain the teaching with regard to saṅkhāra.
IMPERMANENT OF VOLITIONAL ACTIVITIES
"Saṅkhāra niccā vā aniccā vāti; aniccā bhante. Yam panā niccam dukkham vā tam sukham vāti; dukkham bhante. Yam panā niccam dukkham viparinūmadhammam kāllam nu tam samanupassitum 'etam mama eso h'amasmi eso me attāti; no hi'etam bhante."
"Are saṅkhāras, the volitional activities, permanent or impermanent? asked the Blessed One. 'Not permanent, the Blessed One."
Saṅkhāras are the volitional motivation responsible for physical, vocal and mental actions. In abstract sense, they are the fifty kinds of mental concomitants headed by cetanā, volition, which we have already talked about before, saṅkhāras, volitional activities, cover and extensive field. The motivating power behind all physical actions such as going, standing, sitting, lying, bending, stretching, moving is the saṅkhāra; the vocal actions are also caused by the same saṅkhāra agents- We are now talking as urged on by the saṅkhāra while thus talking and reciting, every word uttered has been primed by the saṅkhāra. It is the saṅkhāra too which is at the back of all thoughts and imaginations.
Ordinary people think all the said actions (physical, vocal and mental) are being done by 'me, self' and this self' the doer is believed to be ever lasting, permanent. But the Yogī who is ever watchful of rising and falling of abdomen takes note of any activity of the mind as soon as it occurs. Cetanā, volition accompanied by lobha, desire is perceived by the Yogī to be arousing the desire to want and urging to go after that which is wanted. The Yogī notes these mental activities as liking, wanting. Associated with dosa, volition appears as anger, an out rage that has to be noted as 'angry, outrageous.' When headed by delusion, moha, wrong actions are thought about; these thoughts have to be noted. When associated with conceit, or ego, one becomes bloated with ego and one has to get rid of it by noting, 'conceit, conceit.' When accompanied by envy, jealousy, avariciousness, it manifests as enviousness and avariciousness and it should be noted as such.
When volition appears associated with faith and confidence, devotion and piety develop towards the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sanghā. Urging one to give homage and respect to them. These thoughts are noted as they arise as devotion, piety etc. Akusala leads to unwholesome results. Cetanā may manifest itself, discouraging one from it, hindering it; Kusala leads to wholesome results; Cetanā may arise one to practice it. In similar manner volition may manifest in a number of ways and as such should be noted. It may appear accompanied by mindfulness, heedful of the fact at such and such a time, such a wholesome act will be done. It may arise in various manners and the mental attitudes of those moments should also be noted. When mettā, loving kindness arises with volition, there appears feeling of benevolence to others, thinking of ways of making others happy. With compassion, volition arises having pity on others and thinking of how to help others out of suffering. All these mental attitudes should be carefully noted.
While noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, if there is feeling of stiffness or heat appearing, they should be noted. As these are being noted, there appear the thought and the urge to bend, stretch and change postures. These have to be noted too. Then there is the urge to lower or raise the head, to move forward or backward etc, to get up and walk. These are physical activities conditioned and willed by volition and they are all noted.
Then there is volitional urging concerning vocal activities, urging and directing what to say and how to say, just like now when I am saying things as willed by volition. The Yogī who keeps constant track of all these volitional activities knows with personal experience that these activities appear and vanish instantly and are therefore, impermanent. And the group of five Bhikkhus had become Sotāpanas through their own knowledge of the nature of impermanence. While listening to this discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, they saw again the nature of impermanence by perceiving the constant rising and falling of the saṅkhāras such as phassa, cetanā manasikāra, saddhā, sati etc. Thus to the question "Is saṅkhāras permanent or impermanent?", they replied, "Not permanent, Sir."
"Furthermore, that which is impermanent, is it dukkha or sukha?" - " Dukkha, the Blessed One."
"That which is impermanent, suffering and subject to change -- Is it fitting to regard that as This is mine, This I am, This is my self?" "It is not proper, the Blessed One."
These are the same types of the questions and answers as we have dealt before. We have only to know here how saṅkhāras could be clung to with craving conceit and wrong view and how to become free of these clingings.
Ordinary persons who cannot take note of the phenomena of rūpa, nāma as they occur believe that volitional activities headed by cetanā are good, pleasant and take delight in them. This is clinging with craving. To think that these activities are his to perform, that he can perform better than others is clinging with conceit. Thinking that activities such as going, stopping, sitting, bending, stretching, moving, etc., are being done by me, "I do, It is I who does the action; I talk, It is I who talk; I think, It is I who think; I see, hear, look, listen, It is I who sees, hears, locks, listens, etc." This is clinging with wrong view; as the clinging is in the person of the doer, it is known as Kāraka Atta clinging. Believing all actions, physical, vocal, mental are being done by self is Karaka atta clinging. Believing that this self resides permanently in one's person is Nivāsī Atta clinging. This self which resides permanently in one's person goes when it wants. stands, sits, bends, stretches, talks, thinks when it wants, when it wills, and is subject to one's control. Believing thus is Sāmi Atta clinging.
The Yogī who is ever on the watch of the nāma, rūpa phenomenon perceives that activity that arises namely desire to think, desire to see, hear, bend, stretch, change position, rise, go talk, vanishes instantly after it has been noted; therefore, all these activities, arising and vanishing incessantly are impermanent: Consequently they are not delightful, not dependable, mere suffering; thus it is concluded through personal knowledge. Therefore, he realizes that there is nothing to cling to as "This is mine," to take pride in, as 'This I am, and to believe that 'This is my self.' The group of five Bhikkhus had realized in a similar manner and become Sotāpanas. While listening to this discourse too, they perceived the volitional activities rising and perishing. Therefore they replied to the Blessed One that it was not proper to regard that which is impermanent, suffering and subject to change as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self.'
We will now ask questions regarding the saṅkhāras; the audience may reply as they deem fit.
1. Is the effort to do permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir); Is the thought of doing permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir); Is the desire to bend, stretch, change position, get up, to go, raise the legs, step out, drop down, permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir); Is the desire to turn back, to stand, sit, permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir); Is the desire to see, talk, eat, chew, permanent or Impermanent? (Impermanent Sir).
2. That which is impermanent, is it pleasant or unpleasant? good or not good? (Unpleasant, Sir; Not good, Sir).
3. That which is impermanent, suffering, subject to change, is it fitting to delight in it regarding it as 'This is mine? (not fitting Sir); to get conceited regarding it as 'This I am?' (not fitting Sir); to cling to it as 'This is my self?' (not fitting Sir).
These questions are asked so as to prevent the clinging to saṅkhāras by craving and conceit as 'This is my idea,' 'I can think it out'; and for the common worldling to prevent clinging to the saṅkhāras with the wrong view of self.
This should be enough explanations on saṅkhāras. We shall go on to consideration of viññāṇa now.
IMPERMANENCE OF VIÑÑĀṆA, CONSCIOUSNESS
"Viññāṇam niccam vā aniccā vāti, aniccam bhante. Yam panā niccam dukkham vā tam sukham vāti. Dukkham bhante. Yam panā niccam dukkham viparināma dhammam kallam nu tam sammanupassitum etam mama eso h'amasmi eso me attāti no h'etam Bhante."
"Is mind, consciousness permanent or impermanent?" asked the Blessed One. The Bhikkhus answered, 'Impermanent, Sir.'
Viññāṇa is mind or consciousness; the term consciousness is not commonly employed as mind. Even mental concomitants such as cetāna, lobha and dosa are talked about as just mind, because mind plays a leading role. We shall also generally use Mind instead of consciousness in this chapter.
Those who cannot watch and note the mind as it is arising imagine that the mind is everlasting, permanent, thinking that it is the same mind that is conscious of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, thinking; the same mind that sees for a long time, hears, smells, etc for a long time; the same mind that was in existence when young, still existing; will continue to exist till death. Right through out the whole of one existence, it is the same mind that has been functioning. Some even hold the belief that it will be the same mind that will move onto future existences. This is how mind is regarded to be permanent and everlasting.
When the Yogī who is ever watchful of the phenomenon of nāma, rūpa while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, notices the arising of an idea or a thought, he at once notes it as 'idea', 'thought'. When noted thus, the idea or thought vanishes. Thus the Yogī realizes that 'the thought was not in existence before; it makes its appearance only now and disappears at once. We have been imagining thought to be permanent because we have not carefully observed it before; now that we have watched it; we have seen it fast disappearing. We now know it truly as it is-its impermanent nature."
When hearing too, if noted 'hearing, hearing' it keeps on arising, vanishing, arising, vanishing, instantly. The same applies to consciousness of smelling, tasting. Consciousness of touch that is appearing inside the body is noted to be arising and vanishing quickly, here and there, all over the body. When the concentration is very strong, the act of seeing is observed to be happening and disappearing in a series of separate but continuous events one after another. Thus it is realized that consciousness of thinking, hearing, touching, seeing etc arise separately and disappear one by one, all impermanent, unstable.
The mind that wants to bend, change posture, get up, go etc., renews themselves afresh and gets dissolved instantly. The mind that takes note of each phenomenon also vanishes with each noting. Thus, the mind which is conscious of various kinds of subjects is arising and vanishing incessantly and is therefore impermanent. The group of five Bhikkhus had realized the same thing and had become Sotāpanas. And while listening to this discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, they saw again the nature of impermanence by perceiving the constant arising and vanishing of consciousnesses such as eye consciousness, ear consciousness, tactile consciousness, mental consciousness, etc., Therefore, to the questions of the Blessed One, "Is consciousness, permanent or impermanent," they had replied, 'Not permanent, Sir.' To the Yogī who is ever watchful, this is of course very clear.
"Furthermore; that which is impermanent, is it dukkha or sukha ?" asked the Blessed One. 'Dukkha, the Blessed One.'
"That which is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change is it fitting to regard it as 'This is mind, This I am, This is my self.' 'Not fitting, Sir.'
These are the same types of the questions and answers as we have dealt before. We have only to know how thinking, knowing mind may be wrongly clung to with craving, conceit and wrong view and how to become free from these clingings.
Ordinary persons who cannot take note of the mind as it appears at the six doors at every instance of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing, takes delight in it as 'This is mine, This I am.' They are pleased with the mind which is manifesting at the present moment; they are delighted with the mind which had risen before and they wish to enjoy such delightful mind in future. This is clinging with craving. The Yogī who keeps on noting every phenomenon perceives that consciousness with respect to good sight or sound associated with gladness, happiness, all disappears even as he is taking note of them. He, therefore, does not takes delight in them, does not yearn for them. This is how one keeps free of clinging with craving.
Ordinary person who cannot take note of the mind cannot distinguish the preceding mind from the mind following it. They think the mind of their younger days still persist as one continuous permanent mind. The mind that was there before keeps on seeing, hearing, touching, thinking etc.. Believing it to be permanent and having special qualities, conceit is developed, 'I know in this way, I won't stand any nonsense, I have a courageous mind.' This is clinging with conceit. But the ever watchful Yogī knows that all these consciousness of seeing, hearing, touching etc., keeps disappearing as they are being noted. He knows their impermanent nature. In the same way, no conceit arises in a person who knows he is about to die, No conceit is developed by the Yogī with regard to his mind. This is how to become free from clinging with conceit.
Ordinary people believe 'It is I who sees, hears, smells, touches, thinks; I can know various kinds of objects; I want to bend, stretch, go, talk, all the thinking, all the actions are under-taken by my mind, by my self.' This is Kāraka atta clinging.
"Believing all actions, physical, vocal and mental are done by self is Kāraka atta clinging."
Clinging in the form of activities may be classed under saṅkhāra, but is also concerned with mind. Generally desire to bend, stretch to go, talk are usually described as mind. Therefore desire to do an act is classed under mind or consciousness. 'This mind or consciousness as self exists permanently in one's person, it is this self which becomes conscious of seeing, hearing etc.' Believing in this manner is Nivāsī atta clinging.
"Believing there is a permanent self in one's person is Nivāsī atta clinging."
In modern times too some religions mention about a consciousness or soul permanently residing in one's body. According to some of them, when a person dies, the soul leaves the perishing body and goes to reside in a new body. At the time of the Buddha, a Bhikkhu by the name of Sāti, took consciousness to be self. The story of Sāti has been told in Part Four of these discourses. (See page ..) This is then the wrong view which takes consciousness to be self.
Then there is the belief that one can think if one wishes; one controls one's mind as one will. This is Sāmi atta clinging.
"Believing there is a self inside the body subject to one's control is Sāmi atta clinging.."
For the Yogī engaged in constant noting, even while noting, 'thinking, thinking', the thinking mind disappears; noting 'hearing, hearing', the consciousness of hearing disappears; noting 'touching, touching', the consciousness of touching disappears; noting 'seeing seeing', the consciousness of seeing disappears. Thus perceiving the disappearance of consciousness even while noting, realization comes that "these various consciousness concerning thinking, hearing, touching, seeing, noting etc are mere phenomena coming into being conditioned by their own causes and are dissolving away. They are not self, living entity."
Realization comes in this way. In accordance with 'cakkhum ca paticca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhu viññāṇam', eye consciousness arises because there are the eyes and visible forms; ear consciousness arises because there are the ears and sounds; consciousness of touch arises because there are the body and the tactile body; there is mental consciousness because there is the base mind (bhavaṅga and thinking) and the mental object; the consciousness of noting because there is the intention (to note) and the object to note. They all arise because of their own causes and the conditions. When there are these conditioning causes, they come into being and perish away, whether we wish it to happen or not. In the absence of these conditioning causes, no amount of wishing will produce them. The pleasant mind, we wish to endure, does not last; it passes away quickly.
Thus the Yogī can decide with his own personal knowledge that 'consciousness is not self, which engages in activities, which is permanent and subject to one's control and will. It comes into being in accordance with its own conditioning causes and vanishes away as a mere phenomenon. The group of five Bhikkhus' knowledge of these phenomena was not ordinary knowledge; it was the insight resulting from the Sotāpattiagga ñāṇa, entirely free from clinging. Thus when asked, 'That consciousness which is impermanent, suffering and subject to change, is it proper to regard it as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self,' by the Blessed One, they replied, 'Not proper, revered Sir.'
We shall also ask you similar questions which you may answer as you deem fit:
1. Is mind permanent or impermanent? (Not permanent, Sir); While observing the rise and fall of abdomen a thought arises, is that thought permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir); When sitting for long, heat sensation manifests itself. While noting it as 'hot, hot', the wish comes for a change of posture. When this wish is noted, it disappears, does it not? (It does, Sir); Is it then permanent or not permanent (Not permanent, Sir). When feeling stiff, you note it as 'stiff, stiff, then the wish comes for a change of posture. When this wish is noted. it disappears, does it not? (It does, Sir). Is it then permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir). When you wish to bend, you note it as 'wishing to bend, wishing to bend' and the wish disappears. Is it then permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent Sir). There is the desire to stretch, when it is noted, it disappears. Is it then permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir). Again the desire to get up, to go; when it is noted, it disappears. Is it then permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir).
Whatever is being noted, the noting mind disappears even while noting. Is this noting mind then permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir). The consciousness of hearing when noted as 'hearing, hearing, disappears; is that consciousness of hearing permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir). The consciousness of touch when noted as 'touching, touching, disappears. Is that consciousness of touch permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir). The eye consciousness, is it permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir). Then nose consciousness, the tongue consciousness, are they permanent or impermanent? (Impermanent, Sir).
2. That which is impermanence, is this suffering or happiness (Suffering, Sir). Is Impermanence good or bad? (Bad, Sir).
3. Is it proper then to regard consciousness which is impermanent, suffering and subject to change, as 'This is mine' and take delight in it? (No, Sir); as 'This I am' and take pride in it or as 'This is my self' cling to it wrongly? (No Sir).
These questions are asked so as to prevent clinging with craving and conceit to consciousness which cognizes objects, regarding them as 'This is my mind, I know; the thinker and doer is my self' and for common worldling not to cling to it with wrong view.
We have fully explained the questions in the Teaching dealing with clinging of craving conceit and wrong view concerning with the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. Now we shall go on to the Teaching on how to contemplate to get clear of these three types of clingings.
Removal of three types of clingings. (Third Part of the Sutta).
(1) CONTEMPLATION ON RŪPA
"Tasmātiha Bhikkhave yam kinci rūpam atitānāgatapaccu-ppannam ajjhattam vā bahiddhā vā olārikam vā sukhumam vā hinam vā panitam vā yam dūre santike vā sabbam rūpam 'netam mama neso hamasmi na meso attāti' eva metam yathābūtam sammappaññaya dathabbam."
"Bhikkhus, as stated above, since it is not fitting to regard as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self', all forms of rūpa, whether past, future or present, internal or external, coarse or fine, whether inferior or superior, far or near, all rūpas should be regarded with right understanding, according to reality, 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self.' All rūpas must be contemplated on so as to realize the truth, as it really is, with personal knowledge that 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self.'
In the above statement, rūpa is described and enumerated in eleven ways such as past, future, present etc. With respect to time, rūpa is described in terms of past, future or present. 'The past' refers to what had happened in the past, what has arisen and ceased in the previous existences or in the past time of the present existence. 'By future' is meant that which has not yet happened, which is going to happen at some time in the future. The present means what is actually happening now. Sequentially it amounts to what had happened before, what is happening now and what will happen in the future. Thus when rūpa is enumerated in these three ways of difference in time, all the rūpas is self, in others, animate, inanimate, all are covered.
WHAT THE DISCIPLES SHOULD CONTEMPLATE ON
But, for the purpose of vipassanā meditation disciples are mainly concerned with contemplating on what is happening in one's body, as definitely stated in the Commentary and subcommentary of the Anupadā Sutta of Uparipannāsa Pāḷi Canon. Phenomena happening elsewhere need be known only conjecturally. Thus the Yogī needs only to understand the phenomenon of nāma, rūpa happening inside one's body and see with one's own (insight) knowledge, the true nature as it really is.
Even in connection with the phenomenon happening inside one's person, one can be only guessing in attempting to understand the phenomenon of the future, because it has not occurred yet, is not yet in existence. Concerning those that had occurred before, their nature cannot be known as they really were; it would be mere guess work. Even for those phenomena that occurs during one's life time, it is not easy to see what they really were what 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 persons, once an object is seen, heard, touched etc., attachment for it would have arisen immediately as 'I, he, a woman or a man' in terms of conventional concepts.
ONLY THE PRESENT SHOULD BE NOTED INITIALLY
Therefore, as stated in Bhaddekaratta Sutta, Paccuppannañca yam dhammam, tatthā tatthā vipassati: Only the present should be contemplated on in Vipassanā meditation, that is, as the phenomenon is being seen, heard etc. In the Satipaṭhāna Pāḷi Canon, also it is stated the present phenomenon actually happening now, while presently going, standing, sitting, lying, should be noted initially. We have provided a searching analysis of this paragraph, because this paragraph mentions 'past rūpa', which comes first in the sequential order of past, present, future, doubt may arise whether one should start meditating with what had happened in the past. This analysis should remove away that doubt.
Therefore, only those phenomena of nāma, rūpa which manifest themselves at the six doors every time an object is seen, heard, touched should be constantly noted, just like our Yogīs who are now taking note of the phenomena of rising, falling, sitting, touching etc. Engaged in this manner as the concentration gets strengthened, Yogī comes to differentiate between the phenomenon of falling and the phenomenon of noting it. The extension, the pressure and the motion of the moment of rising do not last till the moment of falling; they disappear at the moments of their respective phenomena. The distension and motion at the moment of falling 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 rūpas of the 'left step' are not retained till the 'right step'. They vanish just at the moment of their respective appearance. The rūpas of the 'raising moment' do not last till the moment of stepping out; that of the stepping moment do not stay on till the moment of dropping down; they all vanish away at the respective moments of appearing.
Similarly in bending and stretching, each phenomenon disappears at the respective moment of appearing. When the concentration gets particularly strong, the Yogī will observe, during the period of one act of bending, or stretching, the process of dissolution in very quick serial motion happening in the same place without change of position. The Yogī therefore realizes "that the nature of phenomena was not known before because they were not heedfully noted. Now that they are noted, it is perceived that the aggregates do not pass on from one moment to another. They perish ceaselessly at the very moment of their appearance." Thus the rūpas which had occurred before do not last till the present moment; they have all perished. The rūpas which are manifesting themselves now in rising, falling, bending, stretching, dropping, stepping, moving will not reach a future moment. They will all vanish away presently. The rūpas of the coming phenomena will also cease at their respective moments of arising. Therefore all kinds of rūpas are impermanent, incessantly arising and disappearing. They constitute suffering, not self, but mere phenomena because they are not amenable to one's control, arising and vanishing in accordance with their own conditional causes. The Yogī comes to realize them through his own knowledge. To enable such realization, the Blessed One exhorted that meditative effort should be made until it is perceived that 'This is not mine.'
CONTEMPLATION ON NETAM MAMA AND ANICCA --- A DISCUSSION
'Netam mama- This is not mine,' according to which it may be asked, whether contemplation should be done by reciting this formula. No recitation should be done. Meditation should be carried out so as to know the true nature of anicca, dukkha, and anatta. To k now the real nature of anicca etc is to know the meaning of netam mama which is a peculiar ancient idiom of the Pāḷi language.
In the Channa Sutta of Salāyatanavagga of Samyutta Pāḷi Canon, there was a passage where Channa was asked 'Do you perceive thus 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self' and Channa replied, "I perceived thus, 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self," The Commentary explained that it meant that Channa had perceived it merely as anicca, dukkha, anatta.
Here seeing "This is not mine" is the same as perceiving that incessantly arising and passing away, there is nothing delightful, not dependable, just suffering. Seeing 'This I am not' is the same as perceiving that it is not permanent. Conceit arises believing in permanence. When truth is known about its impermanent nature, there is nothing to take pride in. Seeing "This is not my self" is exactly the same as seeing that it is not atta. Failing to take note of every phenomenon of nāma, rūpa as it arises at the six doors and then believing it to be permanent, the conceit makes its appearence 'This I am'.
But when perceived that the phenomenon does not last even the blink of an eye, everything is impermanent conceit cannot arise. When it is not known to be non-self, there is clinging as self; when it is seen to be non-self, no clinging is possible as atta - This is of course very clear and needs no elaboration.
Ordinary people who cannot observe the phenomena of seeing etc at the moment of their arising believe that the rūpas at the moment of seeing linger on to become rūpas at the moment of hearing; or vice versa lasting from one moment to the next. They believe also that it is the single I who sees as well as hears, touches, etc. The rūpas of the past have arrived at the present, and the present one will go on to the future. They believe in this way too which is clinging to the belief in their permanence.
But the Yogī who is ever watchful of these phenomena knows that the rūpas at the moment of seeing perishes then and there, does not reach the moment of hearing; the rūpas at the moment of hearing perishes then and there, does not reach the moment of seeing. Every act of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing is a new arising, rising afresh all the time. This is knowing the truth of impermanence as it really is. Knowing this, the Yogī realizes that the rūpa of the past has ceased in the past, has not come forward to the present; the present rūpa keep on perishing away even while being noted and will not reach the future. He knows also that rūpas of the future will also perish away at the moment of arising. He realizes that this rūpa does not endure even for a duration of a flicker of an eyelid. Realizing thus, there is no opportunity for arising of clinging by craving 'This is mine,' clinging by conceit, taking pride as 'This I am,' not clinging by wrong view as 'This is my self'. The Blessed One exhorted the group of five Bhikkhus to contemplate in this way so as to be rid of clinging by craving and conceit. The ordinary worldlings are also instructed to contemplate so as to be free of the clinging by wrong view.
SOTĀPANNAS INSTRUCTED TO CONTEMPLATE ON NON-SELF
Why was the group of Bhikkhus who had already become Sotapānnas instructed to get rid of Atta, 'This is not my self'? This is something to ponder upon. According to Visuddhi Magga, Sotāpannas are free from illusions of wrong view of atta clinging as well as illusions of perceptions (saññā vipallāsa) and illusion of the mind. Being free from all the three kinds of Atta clinging, to rid of what clinging, was this exhortation to contemplate on Non-self given to the group of five Bhikkhus? In the first part of this book, it was explained how this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was taught to remove the Asami māna which is akin to Atta clinging. But here, as separate instruction have been given to get rid of Asami māna in 'neso hamasami.. This I am not' the instruction to contemplate on na meso Atta.. This is not my self' cannot be said to be given to remove Asami māna; then to remove what kind of clinging has it been asked to contemplate on 'Non-self', Anatta? This is the point to consider.
This problem is not easy of definite and accurate solution. We shall attempt to solve it in three ways. (I) The first solution. In Sīlavanta Sutta, it is mentioned that the Arahats also do meditate on the nature of Non-self. Reference may be made to page 470 of the discourse on Sīlavanta Sutta. Although Sotāpanna has no Atta clinging to be rid of, he nevertheless contemplates on non-self just like the Arahats for the attainment of higher knowledge.
If this first answer is found not satisfactory, here is our second answer (2) The second solution .. This is in accordance with what is provided on page 330 of Sīlavanta Sutta. There is no doubt that Sotāpanna is free from illusion of wrong view which believes in self, in permanency of self. As to the illusion of perception, it should be taken that Sotāpanna is free from it only when reflecting intentionally it or when engaged in contemplate on it. Only on such occasions the Sotāpanna may be taken as free from wrong perceptions of permanence, wrong perception of self. If he is regarded to be free from these illusions on other occasions also when no particular attentive note is being taken on them, it will amount to putting Sotāpannas on the same level of developments as Arahats; He will be knowing all acts of seeing, hearing etc to be impermanent, mere phenomenon; he will have no conceit, no arising of lustful desires regarding men or women.
Therefore, on inattentive moments, Sotāpanna can have wrong perceptions, wrong notions of things. Thus to enable the group of five Bhikkhus to get rid of such wrong perceptions and notions, this exhortation to contemplate on Non-self was given by the Buddha.
(3) The third solution .. This based on explanation offered by the Venerable Khamaka who had already reached the stage of Anāgam. Khamaka said that he did not cling to rūpa as 'I am' nor to each of the other aggregates vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. But with regard to the five aggregates as a whole, he still was not free from the notion 'I am.' Just as in this explanation, for a Sotāpanna, there is no clinging as self towards any of the aggregates such of rūpa, vedanā, saññā etc., but with regard to the five aggregates as a whole, Sotāpanna is not free from perception, the sensual passions still arise in him to the extent of sitting down in a married life. Therefore it should be regarded that the group of five Bhikkhus were exhorted to contemplate to Anatta so as to become free from such ordinary perceptions and notions.
This is an attempt to reconcile the text in the Pāḷi Canon with the statement in the Commentary which says that Sotāpannas are free from perceptions of self or motions of self.
CONTEMPLATING IN ELEVEN WAYS SUCH AS PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE ETC.
We shall go on discussing how rūpas of past, present and future are contemplated as anicca etc. We have already described how the Yogī observing the rūpas at the moment of rising and falling perish away as they come into being comes to know the phenomenon of anicca, dukkha and anatta. The Yogī who knows thus can decide with his own knowledge that rūpas of the past have not reached the present; the presently occurring rūpas will not reach the future, they perish away at the moment of coming into existence and are therefore impermanent. Consequently, they are suffering, not self, but mere phenomenon. You will recite now how such decisions and considerations are arrived at as described in the Visuddhimagga; while reciting you should make an effort to reflect on them.
1. The rūpas of the past have ceased to exist; they do not reach nor come over to the present. As they have ceased and terminated now, they are impermanent. Because they disappear and perish instantly, they are dreadful, pure suffering. Not being a controlling authority (sāmi), a permanent entity (nivāsī), a doer (kāraka), one who experiences the sensations (vedaka), it is not self with any essence, just the phenomenon of Non-self.
2. The rūpas of the present will perish away and cease now. They will not reach the future. As they are ceasing and vanishing, they are impermanent. Because they are disappearing and perishing incessantly, they are dreadful, pure suffering. Not being a controlling authority, a permanent entity etc., it is not self with any essence, just the phenomenon of Non-self.
3. The rūpas which will come into being in the future will cease to exist then and there. They will not be carried over to any further future existences. Because they will perish and cease they are impermanent. As they are disappearing and perishing instantly, they are dreadful, pure suffering. Not being a self with any essence, it is just the phenomenon of Non-self.
This is how rūpas etc are generally considered with respect to its true nature. Now we shall recite how we reflect while contemplating on them.
1. The past rūpa at the moment of last rising did not reach the stage of falling; the last rūpa at the moment of falling did not reach the stage of rising. It perished away at the moment of rising and falling away and is, therefore, impermanent. Because it is impermanent, it is suffering. Because it is unmanageable, it is nature of Anatta.
The last rūpa at the time of last seeing and hearing did not reach the present moment of seeing and hearing; it perished away at the respective moments of coming into being; it is, therefore, impermanent, suffering, just of the nature of Anatta.
2. The presently rising rūpa does not reach the stage of falling; the presently falling rūpa does not reach the stage of rising. It perishes away even while rising and falling. It is, therefore, impermanent, suffering, just of the nature of Anatta.
The rūpa at the present moment of seeing and hearing do not reach the next moment of seeing and hearing. They perish away even while seeing and hearing. They are, therefore, impermanent, suffering, just of the nature of Anatta.
3. The rūpas at the moment of future rising and falling will not reach the next future moments of rising and falling. They will perish away at the respective moments of coming into being. They are, therefore, impermanent, suffering, just of the nature of Anatta.
This is how the rūpa of the past, present and future are considered while presently taking note of the phenomena of rising and falling. There is also this method of reflecting on the rūpas of the past and future by contemplating on the rūpas of the present. We shall recite about this method of reflection.
Just as there are impermanent rūpas with respect to rising, falling, bending, stretching, raising, stepping, dropping, seeing, hearing, etc., which rise and fall and perish even while they are being noted now, so there have been similar rūpas with respect to rising, falling, stretching, bending etc in the past perishing away at the respective moments of coming into being and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Having perceived by oneself how the rūpas in one's person perish away, there remains the task of reflecting on the rūpas of other people, the rūpas of the whole world. Just like the rūpas in one's person perishing away even while they are being noted, the rūpas in other people, the rūpas of the whole world, will also be perishing away and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We have sufficiently dealt with consideration of behavior of rūpas with regard to three aspects of time. We shall go to considering the internal and external rūpas.
CONTEMPLATING ON THE INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL RŪPAS
People imagine that when they spit, defecate or excrete, the rūpas from inside the body get expelled or discarded to outside the body. When food is eaten or air is breathed in, the external rūpas are believed to have comes into the body. Actually, it is not like this at all. Rūpas undergo dissolution at the moment and place of their coming into being; the new rūpas rise afresh to manifest themselves at the new place. The Yogī who is taking note perceives such dissolution and ceasing taking place at each place of origination.
And this is how it is perceived; when mindfulness and concentration get strong, while noting the rise and fall, the out-breath is seen to break into small sections in the chest, throat and nose before it finally make the exit from the body. The in-breath is also seen to be entering, pushing in, in succession of small sections. The Yogī who smokes knows the smoke, going out and pushing its way in, in series of small portions. Similar phenomenon is seen while drinking water when it pushes its away into the throat portion. Therefore, the internal rūpa does not get outside; the external rūpa does not get inside. It ceases, vanishes at the place where it comes into being. Therefore, it is impermanent, suffering, not self, (445). We must recite this: Internal rūpa does not get outside; the external rūpa does not get inside. It ceases, vanishes inside or outside, wherever it arises and comes into being. Therefore, they are of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
CONTEMPLATING ON COARSE AND FINE RŪPAS
Ordinarily people believe that it is the tender rūpas of our young days which have become the coarse, gross rūpas of the adults; the healthy, light, fine rūpas that becomes the unhealthy, heavy, gross rūpas; the unhealthy, heavy, gross rūpas that have becomes the healthy, light, fine, rūpas. The Yogī who is constantly watching the tactile bodies perceives these rūpas breaking up into tiny bits even while being observed. Thus perceiving, he knows the gross rūpas, does not form into fine rūpas, neither does not the fine rūpa become the gross rūpa. The gross, hot or cold rūpa does not become fine, cold or hot rūpa; fine, cold or hot rūpa does not become gross hot or cold rūpa. The gross, stiff, extending, moving rūpa does not become fine, stable, still rūpa. They all vanish at the moment of arising; they are, therefore, impermanent, and of the nature of Anatta. We must recite thus: (6&7). In the body, the gross rūpa does not become fine rūpa; the fine rūpa also does not become gross rūpa. They perish away at the moment of arising and are, therefore, of the nature of impermanence, suffering and not self.
CONTEMPLATING IN TERMS OF INFERIORITY OR SUPERIORITY
Ordinarily, it is believed that the unhealthy, inferior rūpas become the healthy, superior rūpas; the youthful rūpas have become the rūpas of the old man. But the Yogī who keeps track of the rūpas, at the moment of their arising, perceives that any rūpa that manifests itself ceases and vanishes as it is being noted and, therefore, knows that the inferior rūpa has not become the superior rūpa; neither does the superior one become an inferior one. They all disappear at the moment of arising; they are not permanent and hence of the nature of suffering, non-self. We must recite thus: (8&9) in the body, the inferior rūpa does not become superior rūpa; superior rūpa does not become inferior rūpa. Disappearing at the moment of arising, they are just anicca, dukkha and anatta.
CONTEMPLATING IN TERMS OF FAR AND NEAR
Ordinarily, it is believed that when a man comes from afar, he has arrived with his rūpas of that far distance. When a man departs from a near to a far distance, he carries away the rūpas of the near distance. But the Yogī who is always noting the phenomenon of nāma, rūpa knows, when watching, for instance, the phenomenon of stretching the body, that the rūpa that stretches, vanishes away in a series of blurring fade outs without reaching any distance; when bending, the rūpa that bends, vanishes away in a series of blurring fade outs without reaching any distance. Perceiving thus, the Yogī is convinced that the rūpa which is near, has not gone afar; the rūpa from the distance has not come near. They vanish at the respective moments of becoming and are, therefore, not permanent, but suffering, of the nature of non-self.
While looking at someone coming from a distance and approaching, and when noted, 'seeing, seeing', the man disappears section by section, part by part in a series of quick blurring fade out. While looking at someone leaving from a near distance and when noted 'seeing, seeing', the man disappears section by section, part by part in a series of quick blurring fade out. Thus the rūpa from a distance has not come near; the rūpa which is near has not gone to a distance. The old rūpa keeps on vanishing and the new rūpa keeps on rising, making them appear as if someone is coming from afar and someone is going away. Only the Yogī who has reached the stage of Bhaṅga ñāṇa and whose intelligence sharp can perceive the phenomenon as it really is in this manner. Others with not so sharp an intellect may not perceive so clearly.
Again, while in the course of walking to and fro, taking note of raising, stepping, dropping etc, raising appears separately as one part, stopping separately as one part. When insight is well developed, the movements of body and limbs are seen as series of blurring fade outs. Perceiving thus, the conclusion is arrived at that rūpas do not reach from one place to another; they cease and vanish at the place they come into being. This is knowing in accordance with the statement of the sub-commentary, "absolute realities do not move over to another place; they cease and vanish at the places they come into existence."
(10&11). Therefore, rūpas from afar do not come near; rūpas which are near do not go afar. They cease and vanish at the place where they come into existance. They are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. This is then an account of how rūpas described in eleven ways are contemplated on as 'This is not mine -- netam mama etc.'
"All rūpas whether past, future or present; internal or external; gross or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all rūpas should be seen with own knowledge as they truly are; that 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self.'
Let us stop here for today.
By virtue of having given respectful attention to this discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, may you all attain and realize soon, the Nibbāna, by means of the Path and Fruition of your own wish.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the Sixth Path of the Discourse
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the full moon day of Wāgaung, the 8th waxing day of Wāgaung, and the 8th waxing day of Tawthalin 1325 M.E.)
During the past weeks, we have finished with that portion of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta which deals analytically with the anicca, dukkha, anatta nature of the rūpas in eleven aspects. We have now come to the part which deals with eleven aspects of vedanā analytically.
2. VEDANĀ ANALYTICALLY STUDIED IN ELEVEN ASPECTS
"YĀ kāci vedan, atītānāgatapaccuppannā ajjhattan vā bahiddhā vā olarika vā Sukhumā vā hina vā panita vā yā dure santike vā sabbā vedanā, 'netam mama neso hamasmi na meso attati Eva metam yathābhūtam sammappaññaya dathabban."
Whatever vedanā, whether past, future or present, internal or external; gross or fine; inferior or superior; far or near; should be seen with own knowledge, as they truly are that 'This is not mine; This I am not; This is not myself."
This is the exhortation to contemplate on vedanā analytically under eleven headings so as to bring out the anicca, dukkha, anatta characteristics of vedanā. Here past vedanā means the sensations experienced in previous existences as well as those experienced days, months, years ago in this life time. There are also those experiences in the earlier part of today, of these, it is obvious that the vedanās of the past existences had all ceased to exist; but to those with strong attachment to atta, it would not to be so obvious because they hold to the view that the self that had experienced the sensations of the previous existence keeps on experiencing the sensations now. In their view, they do not think all the sensations of the earlier times in the present existence have all perished and ceased. They believed that the self that had enjoyed these sensations before is still enjoying them now.
VEDANĀ CONTEMPLATED ON WITH REGARD TO THREE ASPECTS OF TIME
While the Yogī who is ever watchful is contemplating on the rising and falling, if unpleasant vedanā such as stiffness, hotness, pain etc., appears, he takes note of them. When thus noted, the unbearable vedanā gets less and less painful and then vanishes away. When the concentration is specially strong, it will be seen that each pain passes away with each noting. Perceiving thus, it is realized with one's own personal knowledge that vedanā which experiences sensations is not everlasting, does not even endure even for about a second, incessantly arising and vanishing. Not to say of the vedanās of the previous experiences, even vedanās of the present existence, which had arisen earlier in the life, are non-existent now. The vedanā which manifested only a moment ago is also no longer in existence now. All these are realized by the observing Yogī who sees also that the pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensations, which are being experienced just at the moment are also arising and vanishing, arising and vanishing all the time. Hence it can be visualized that vedanās which are coming up in the future too will arise and vanish away at the moment of arising. We shall recapitulate by reciting;
1. The vedanā of the past has ceased in the past; it does not come over to the present. As it has ceased and terminated now, it is impermanent. Being impermanent, it is not pleasant, not dependable. It is merely dreadful, pure suffering. The unbearable dukkha vedanā is dreadful too because it is oppressing. Not being a controlling authority (sāmi), a permanent entity (nivāsī), one who experiences the sensations (vedanā), it is not self with any essence, just the phenomena of Non-self.
2. The vedanā of the present will perish away and cease now. It will not reach the future. As it is ceasing and vanishing, it is impermanent. As it is impermanent, it is dreadful suffering. It is pure suffering also because it is unbearable. Not being a controlling authority, a permanent entity etc, it is not self with any essence, just the phenomenon of Non-self.
3. The vedanā which will come into being in the future will cease to exist then and there. It will not be carried over to any further future existence. Because it will perish away and cease, it is impermanent. As it is impermanent, it is dreadful suffering. Not being a self with any essence, it is just a phenomenon of Non-self.
This is how vedanā is contemplated on with regard to three aspects of time. Now we shall recite how we reflect while contemplating on it.
1. The feelings of stiffness, hotness, pain and discomfort which was experienced a moment ago did not reach the present moment of comfortable feeling. It passed away at the moment of feeling stiff, hot, painful and unbearable. As it passed away in this manner, it is impermanent. And because it is impermanent, and unbearable, it is dreadful suffering. The comfortable feeling of a moment ago did not reach the present moment of intense discomfort. It passed away at that very moment of feeling comfortable and is, therefore, impermanent. Since it is impermanent, it is dreadful suffering. All the feelings, pleasant or unpleasant are not self with any essence, just the phenomena of Non-self.
2. The pleasant or unpleasant vedanās of the present cease and vanish, cease and vanish even while they are being noted and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering, just the nature of anatta.
3. The pleasant or unpleasant vedanās of the future too will cease and vanish at the moment of their arising. They are, therefore, impermanent, suffering, just the nature of Anatta.
This is how vedanās of the past, present and future are considered as they manifest themselves at the moment of taking note of them. There is also this method of reflecting on the vedanās of the past and the future by contemplating on the vedanās of the present. We shall recite:
"Just as there are impermanent vedanās, pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, which cease and perish even while they are being noted, there have been similar vedanās before, perishing away at the moment of their coming into being and are therefore of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta. The vedanās which will come into being in future will also pass away at the moment of arising and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta."
Having perceived by oneself how the vedanās in our person, perish away, there remains the task of considering by inference the vedanās in other people, the vedanās in the whole world. We shall recite thus:
"Just like the vedanās in oneself which cease and vanish even while they are being noted, the vedanā in other people, the vedanās in the whole world will also cease and vanish. They too, are therefore of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta."
We have sufficiently dealt with how vedanā is contemplated on with regard to three aspects of time. We shall go on considering the contemplation of the internal and external vedanās.
CONTEMPLATING ON THE INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL VEDANĀS
"Just as rūpa is considered in two aspects, internal and external, the internal rūpa not becoming as external rūpa and vice versa, so also vedanā should be considered in two aspects, internal and external," states the Visuddhimagga. The vedanā from inside does not reach outside; the vedanā from outside does not reach inside. In this way, it should be contemplated on. The question arises here: Does it mean vedanā from inside one's person not reaching the body of an external person; and other people's vedanā not reaching one's person. But nobody believes that one's vedanā gets to other persons and other person's vedanā gets to oneself. So this manner of contemplation is not meant here. It should be regarded that what is meant here is change of object, internal to external and vice versa.
When vedanā that has arisen dependent on an internal object is replaced by vedanā that has arisen dependent on an external object, ordinarily people think that the internal vedanā has become an external one. Conversely when pleasant or unpleasant feelings conditioned by an external object get replaced by pleasant or unpleasant feelings dependent on an internal object, people think that the external vedanā has become an internal vedanā. Similarly, the vedanā arising from an object far away changes to one dependent on a near object, people think that vedanā has moved from a far distance to one closely. And vice versa. What is meant here, therefore, is change of objects external and internal, far and near, dependent on which feelings arise.
The Yogī engaged in noting the phenomena of nāmas and rūpas as they occur, takes note of the pain etc., when an unpleasant feeling arises in the body. While doing so, if the mind passes on to an external object and feelings of happiness or sorrow with regard to that external object, these feelings should be noted as happiness or sorrow etc. Thus during all this time of careful noting, the original feeling of unpleasantness does not reach outside. It ceases and perishes internally. Then attention is switched on to an external object which causes the arising of new vedanā. The Yogī thus understands these phenomena. He fully understands also when the reverse process takes place; that is, the original feeling of happiness etc., arising from an external object ceases and new feeling of pain etc., is experienced internally.
(4&5). The internal vedanā does not reach outside; the external vedanā also does not reach inside. Respective vedanās arise and cease at the respective moments of becoming and are thus of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
CONTEMPLATING ON THE COARSE AND FINE VEDANĀS
While experiencing the gross sensations of pain etc., if one begins to feel subtle ones, ordinary people 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 Yogī, however, sees with every note taking that painful sensations perish away, part by part section by section and, therefore, knows that the subtle pains have not changed into gross ones; nor the gross ones have ever changed into subtle ones. The old vedanās perish away and get replaced by new ones arising in their place, mere nature or impermanence. He realizes all this by his own knowledge.
(6&7) Gross pains etc., do not become subtle pains etc., and vie versa. They perish away at the respective moments of arising. Thus vedanā is of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
CONTEMPLATION AS INFERIOR OR SUPERIOR VEDANĀ
The painful sensation on the body is regarded as inferior form of vedanā, whereas fine, pleasant sensations are regarded as superior kinds of vedanā. Likewise, unhappiness, sorrow, dejection, sadness are inferior vedanās, happiness, gladness etc., are of superior kinds. In other words feeling angry, depressed and unhappy is inferior vedanā; feeling happy is superior vedanā. But here even, happiness with delighting in sensuous objects of worship such as the Buddha etc., is superior. As the experiencing of vedanās change from one type to another, ordinary people think the inferior vedanā has become a superior one, or the superior vedanā has changed into one of inferior type. But the Yogī perceives that the vedanās perish away even while they are being noted and, therefore, knows that superior vedanā does not become the inferior one; nor the inferior becomes the superior. They perish away at the moment of their arising and are, therefore, impermanent.
(8&9). The painful feeling of inferior vedanā does not become the happy feeling of superior vedanā. Neither does the superior vedanā become the inferior vedanā. They perish away at the moment of their arising and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
CONTEMPLATION ON VEDANĀS, FAR AND NEAR
We have already dealt with considerations of vedanās, far and near (10&11). Feelings arising from far away objects do not become feelings dependent on near objects; feelings with regard to near objects do not become feelings concerned with distant object. They perish away at the moment of experiencing and hence are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We have considered classifications of vedanās under eleven headings. We will go on to similar exposition on Saññā, Perception.
3. SAÑÑĀ, PERCEPTION, CLASSIFIED UNDER ELEVEN HEADS
The Blessed One said "YĀ kāci saññā atītānāgatāpaccuppannā, .... p .... santike vā sabbā saññā netam mama ... p ... yathābhūtam Sammappaññaya dathabban."
"Whatever saññā, whether past, future or present; internal or external; gross or fine; inferior or superior; far or near should be seen with own knowledge, as they truly are that 'That is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self."
This is the exhortation to contemplate on saññā under eleven headings such as past, present or future, analytically so as to bring on the anicca, dukkha, anatta characteristics of saññā. Here past saññā means the perceptions experienced in the previous existences as well as those perceptions of a few months ago in this life time and those experienced only recently. Of these past perceptions, it is obvious that perceptions of previous existences had long ceased to exist. But to those with strong attachment to self, atta, it would not be so obvious because they hold to the view that the same self that recognized and remembered things in the previous existences is still keeping on recognizing and remembering things now. All acts of recognizing have been done and is being done by the single self, the same self. In this life time too, what was recognized in young days or very recently is the work of the same self, the single self right through out.
The Yogī who is ever watchful of the phenomenon of rising and falling etc at the moment of touching, thinking, hearing, seeing etc., finds the perception of sound at once disappears when noted as hearing, hearing; the perception of sight vanishes when noted as seeing, seeing; so also the perception of thoughts, ideas disappears as soon as they are noted as thoughts or ideas. Observing thus, realization comes through personal knowledge that perception is not everlasting; it does not last even one second and has the nature of ceasing incessantly. Not to say of the saññās; perceived in previous existences, even for the present life, perception experienced in the past moments are no longer existent now. They have all ceased and vanished; thus the Yogī can decide for himself. Even the perception that had occurred only a moment ago has passed away now. So also have perished, the saññās that are presently being manifested in the acts of seeing, hearing, touching, happening at the moment. They all keep on arising, vanishing, arising and vanishing. Thus it can be concluded that perception coming up in the future will also disappear at each moment of their becoming.
1. The saññā of the past has ceased in the past; it does not come over to the present. As it has ceased and terminated now, it is impermanent. Being impermanent, it is dreadful suffering. Not being a controlling authority, a permanent entity, one who recognizes and remembers things, it is not self with any essence, but just a phenomenon of Non-self.
2. The saññā of the present life will perish away and cease now. It will not reach the future existence. As it is ceasing and vanishing, it is impermanent. As it is impermanent, it is dreadful suffering. Not being a self with any essence, it is just a phenomenon of non-self.
3. The saññā which will come into being in the future will cease to exist then and there. It will not be carried over to any further future existence. It is, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
This is how saññā is considered with regard to three aspects of time. We shall recite how they are considered while contemplating on them.
1. The saññā which recognized the visible form, sound etc., a moment ago, does not reach the present moment. It disappeared even while recognizing. Therefore, it is of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
2. The saññā which is recognizing and remembering things now also perishes away while actually recognizing. Therefore, it is of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
3. The saññā which will recognize things in the future will also vanish at the time of recognizing them and is, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
Basing on the knowledge of the saññā which manifests at the time of noting, saññās of the past and the future, and of the whole world can be considered by inference.
Just like the impermanent saññās which are perishing even while being noted now, so also the saññās of the past also had vanished away at the time of occurrence and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta. Likewise the saññās coming up in the future will also disappear at respective moments of occurrence and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. The saññās in one's person, in other people, in the whole world also perish and vanish at the respective moments of arising and are all of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
That the saññā which recognizes and remembers things is impermanent and is quite obvious if we just reflect on how easily we have forgotten what we have studied or even learnt by heart. We shall recite how to reflect on the internal and external aspect of saññā.
(4&5). The saññā with regard to one's own person does not reach the moment of perceiving the external objects. The saññās on the outside bodies also do not last till the internal objects are perceived. They perish away at the respective moments of their arising and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
The saññās with regard to desire and craving, with regard to anger and transgression, with regard to conceit, wrong view, doubts and misgivings, all these unwholesome saññās are of the gross type. Saññās with regard to devotional piety towards the Blessed One etc., saññās with regard to Dhamma discourse, with regard to good advice and instructions from teachers and parents. These are fine subtle types of saññās, wholesome saññās of superior types. The gross types belong to the inferior class of saññās. In other words, recognition of prominent, coarse objects is coarse saññās; recognition of fine objects is subtle saññā. We shall recite how we consider these coarse and fine saññās.
(6&7). Coarse saññās do not reach the moment of occurrence of fine saññās. Fine saññās do not reach the moment of occurrence of coarse saññās. They vanish at the respective moment of occurrence and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We shall also recite how we consider the inferior and superior type of saññās.
(8&9). The inferior saññā does not reach the moment of occurrence of superior saññā; so also the superior saññā does not reach the moment of occurrence of inferior saññā. They vanish at the respective moments of occurrence and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Thinking about the distant objects, fine objects and recognizing, remembering them is called saññā of the far distance. Recognizing the coarse objects, near objects, objects in one's person is called the near saññā.
(10&11). The distant saññā does not reach the moment of occurrence of near saññā; the near saññā also does not reach the moment of occurrence of distant saññā. They vanish at the moment of arising and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We have finished enumeration of saññā under eleven heads. We will go on to considering the aggregates of saṅkhāra.
4. SAṄKHARAKKHANDHĀ UNDER ELEVEN HEADS
The Blessed One stated: " Ye keci saṅkhāra atītānāgatapaccuppanna ajjhattam vā bahidhā vā olārikā vā sukhumā vā hina vā panitā vā ye dure vā santike vā sabbe saṅkhāra netam mama, neso hamasmi na meso attāti evametam yathābhūtam sammappaññaya dāthabbam."
"Whatever saṅkhāra, whether past, future or present; internal or external; gross, or fine; inferior or superior, far or near, should be seen with own knowledge, as they truly are, that This is not mine, This I am not, This is myself."
This is the exhortation to contemplate on saṅkhāra under eleven headings such as past, present or future etc, analytically so as to bring out the anicca, dukkha, anatta characteristics of saṅkhāras.
Here it should be noted there are many Dhammas classified under saṅkhārakkhandhā. We have already stated before that apart from vedanā and saññā, the remaining fifty kinds of mental concomitants come under the classification of saṅkhārakkhandhā. To brief, these are the motivating forces enabling production of physical, vocal and mental activities.
They are responsible for the four bodily positions of going, standing, sitting and lying down. It is as if they are giving the commands, 'Now go; now stand, now sit down'. They also bring about actions of bending, stretching, moving, smiling etc as if they are issuing orders 'to bend, stretch, smile, laugh or cry. It is also these saṅkhāras which are causing vocal actions as if they are ordering, 'now say this. They are also responsible for acts of thinking, seeing, hearing, etc.
Thus the saṅkhāras of the past existences ... the wish to go, stand or speak ... could not come over to the present existence. Could they? Didn't they all perish and pass away, then and there. It is obvious, of course, that the desire to do, take or think, in previous existence, had all ceased and vanished now. But those who cling firmly to the belief, "It is I who is doing all actions; all actions are being done by me", are attached to the idea of a single self, "It is I who had done all the actions in the previous existence; the doer in the present existence is also I," For them, holding on to this Atta clinging, 'the doer I' is everlasting.
The Yogī, who is ever watching the rise and fall, if itchy feeling is felt, during the course of noting, in some places, notes 'itching, itching; while noting thus, if the desire to scratch the itchy spot arises, he notes at once, 'want to scratch, want to scratch'. Then the saṅkhāra, namely the desire to scratch, is seen to be disappearing every time it is noted. Also while noting, 'stiff, stiff' because of the feeling of stiffness, if the desire to bend or stretch appears, it has to be noted. Thus the saṅkhāras namely the desire to bend, to stretch, change posture, perish when noted, vanish when noted, keep on perishing. In this manner, saṅkhāras of wishing to change, to talk and think are seen to be ceasing and perishing away.
CONTEMPLATING ON SAṄKHĀRAS IN THREE ASPECTS OF TIME
For the Yogī who keeps on meditating, not to say of the saṅkhāras of the past existences, the presently forming saṅkhāras are seen to be perishing incessantly; thus perceiving, he knows the saṅkhāras of past existences have not come over to the present, the present saṅkhāras will also not go over to the future; the future saṅkhāras will also not move over to the future of much later time. They vanish away at the moment of arising. He realizes, therefore, with his own knowledge that saṅkhāras are impermanent, suffering and of the nature of Anatta.
We shall recite how saṅkhāras are considered with regard to three aspects of time:
1. The saṅkhāras of the past (desiring to do) ceased to exist in the past. They do not reach the present moment. Consequently, they are of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
2. The saṅkhāras of the present moment (desiring to do) will not extend into the future. As they are perishing and vanishing away now, they are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
3. The saṅkhāras which will arise in the future (desiring to do) will not go over to the future of much later time. They will perish and decay at the moment of their arising and are therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
This is how saṅkhāras manifesting as desire to go, desire to do, talk etc., are considered with regard to three aspects of time. We shall recite how they are treated when contemplating on them.
1. The desire of a moment ago to step out with the right foot does not reach the moment of desiring to step out with the left foot. The desire of a moment ago to step out with the left foot does not reach the moment of desiring to step out with right foot. It perishes and vanishes away at the respective moments of arising and is, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. Similarly, the saṅkhāras of the past do not reach the present moment. They perished away at the moment of their arising and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
2. The presently forming saṅkhāras of desiring to do or of careful noting do not reach the next moment. They keep on perishing and decaying as they are forming and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
3. The saṅkhāras which will arise in the future concerning the desire to do and careful noting, will also perish and decay without reaching the future of a much later moment. They are, consequently, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Basing on the knowledge of the saṅkhāras which occur at the time of noting, the saṅkhāras of the past, and the future and of the whole world can be considered by inference in this manner:
Just like the impermanent saṅkhāras of wishing to do and of knowing the noting, which are perishing even while being noted now, so also had the saṅkhāras of the past vanished at the time of occurrence and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. Likewise, the saṅkhāras of the coming future such as wishing to do etc., will also disappear at the respective moments of occurrence and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. The saṅkhāras of one's own person or in other people and the whole wide world also perish and vanish, just like the saṅkhāras which are being noted at the present moment. They are all of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
THE INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL ASPECTS OF SAṄKHĀRAS
The method of differentiation between the internal and external saṅkhāras is the same as the one we have described vedanās and saññās. The saṅkhāra of thinking on an internal object is the internal saṅkhāra. The developed concerning an external object is the external saṅkhāra, that is, thinking of acquiring external animate or inanimate things or bring destruction to them is external saṅkhāra.
(4&5) The saṅkhāras concerning intention to do an internal action come to termination and perish before reaching the moment of thinking of an external action. Therefore they are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. Similarly with respect to saṅkhāras concerning an external action.
Thinking of doing a rough action is saṅkhāra of coarse type; contemplating on doing fine, subtle deeds is saṅkhāra of fine type.
(6&7) Saṅkhāras of coarse types do not become saṅkhāras of fine types. And vice versa. They perish at the moments of arising and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
CONTEMPLATING ON INFERIOR OR SUPERIOR TYPES OF SAṄKHĀRAS
All kinds of thinking about and doing bad deeds are inferior saṅkhāras. Thinking of and doing meritorious deeds are superior saṅkhāras. Of the meritorious deeds, act of keeping precepts is superior to acts of giving charity; meditation is superior to keeping precepts and insight meditation is superior to concentration meditation.
(8&9) Inferior saṅkhāras do not reach the moment of arising of superior saṅkhāras; superior saṅkhāras too do not reach the moment of arising of inferior saṅkhāras. They perish at the respective moments of their arising and are therefore of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
The saṅkhāras of charitable deeds do not reach the moment of arising of the saṅkhāras of keeping precepts. And vice versa. The cetanā saṅkhāras of keeping precepts do not reach the moment of arising of saṅkhāras of meditation. And vice versa. The cetanā saṅkhāras of the development of concentration meditation do not reach the moment of arising of saṅkhāras of insight meditation and vice versa. They all vanish at the moment of their arising and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Contemplation on saṅkhāras of unwholesome and wholesome deeds is very subtle. But the constantly meditating Yogī can know by his own personal knowledge how these saṅkhāras keep on vanishing at the respective moments of arising. For instance, while noting the rise and fall of abdomen, if thinking about wanting and desiring arises, the Yogī notes that phenomenon as wanting, desiring. When noted thus, thinking about wanting and desiring vanishes before reaching the moment of wholesome deed of noting. The Yogī who has advanced to the stage of bhaṅga ñāṇa knows this phenomenon rightly and well. When Yogī feels glad having as his object the act of charity, he should note, 'glad, glad'. When noted in this way, the Yogī who has reached the stage of bhaṅga ñāṇa sees clearly the saṅkhāra of the wholesome deed of contemplating on charity vanishes before reaching the moment of noting. In addition, while noting the rise and fall, when random thought arises, it should be noted. When noted thus, the saṅkhāra of noting the rise and fall vanishes without reaching the moment of rising of the random thought; the saṅkhāra of random thought also vanishes without reaching the moment of noting it as a random thought. In this manner, the Yogī perceives each and every saṅkhāra perishing away before it reaches the moment of rising of another saṅkhāra. If the Yogī does not perceive the phenomena in the way described, it must be said that he has not yet reached the stage of development of that type of ñāṇa.
(10&11). Saṅkhāras of thoughts arising from distant objects do not reach the moment of thoughts on near objects; vice versa. They all vanish at the respective moments of their arising and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We have finished enumeration of saṅkhāras under eleven heads. We shall go on considering the exposition on viññāṇa, mind, or consciousness.
5. MIND OR CONSCIOUSNESS CONSIDERED UNDER (11) HEADS
The Blessed One said, "Yam kiñci viññāṇan atītānāgatapaccuppa-nnam ajjattam vā bahidhā vā olārikā vā sukhumam vā hinam vā panitam yam dūre santike vā sabban viññāṇan netam mama neso hamasmi na meso attāti eva metam yathābhūtam sammapannaya dathabban."
"Whatever viññāṇa, whether past, future or present; internal or external; gross or fine; inferior or superior; far or near should be seen with own knowledge, as they truly are, that 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self."
This is the exhortation to contemplate on consciousness under eleven heads such as past, present etc analytically so as to bring out the anicca, dukkha, anatta characteristics of consciousness.
We have already explained in part VI of these discourses that contemplating on anicca is same as contemplating on 'This I am not'; contemplating on dukkha is same as contemplating on 'This is not mine' and contemplating on anatta and contemplating on 'This is not myself' are the same.
Of the four aggregates of nāma, it must be said that viññāṇa, consciousness or mind is the most prominent. The mental concomitants such as desire, hatred are described as mind in every day language; desiring mind, liking mind, hating mind. In the Commentaries too expositions are given first on mind; then only they are followed by cetasikās as their concomitants. Here also we propose to elaborate on mind to a considerable extent.
The past Viññāṇa may be the mind which had existed in previous lives; it may also be the mind which had occurred during the younger days or the mind which had happened since then during all those intervening days, months or years. Even if we take today, there was the mind which had arisen prior to the present moment. Amongst all these possible types of past viññāṇas that the mind of the past existences has not come over to the present life, that it had ceased in those existences, should be very obvious to those members of the Buddhist faith who have taken an interest in spiritual matters.
But for those with strong attachment to Atta, it is not easy for such knowledge and understanding to arise in them. Because these people with Atta attachment hold to the view that viññāṇa, consciousness is Soul, Self, a living entity. When the old body of past existences broke up and perished, the viññāṇa of these past existences left the old body and transmigrated to the new body of the present life. It has remained there since conception in the mother's womb till the present time; will reside there till the time of death when it will leave again to a fresh body in a new existence. This belief has been fully described in the story of Sāti in part IV of this discourse.
HOW MIND ARISES IN SUCCESSIVE EXISTENCES
As the Yogī know by their own personal knowledge, mind is something that does not last even for a second; it is incessantly arising and vanishing. How it arises and vanishes had also been described in the processes of cognition on page, ... of this book. As explained there, for each existence, at the approach of death, Maranasanna vīthi consciousness arisen holding on to kamma, sign of kamma or sign of destiny as object. This is how it arises; (Refer to page ...) From the life continuum, Bhavaṅga consciousness arises the sense door consciousness, the Avajjana citta, which apprehends the sensation. This citta reflects on a good or bad action he has performed during his life time; or it may be a sign or symbol associated with the good or bad action or symbol of place in which he is destined to be reborn. After this citta has ceased holding on to the said object, the active consciousness javana arises for five times. As the cessation of javana consciousness, holding on to the same object still, the registering consciousness of Tadālambana happens for two thought moments, at the end of which Bhavaṅga consciousness appears lasting for one or two thought moments. After that the consciousness or mind comes to termination for that particular existence and therefore the last Bhavaṅga citta is known as Cuti citta, death consciousness.
As soon as the cuti citta ceases, depending on the wholesome or unwholesome kamma which manifested itself at the death's door, and holding on to the objects that appeared just prior to death, the new consciousness arises in the new existence. This consciousness is called the relinking consciousness or patisandhe citta which forms a linkage with the past existence. As this paṭisundhe citta ceases, a series of Bhavaṅga citta arises. When visible forms, sounds etc., present themselves as objects at the doors of eyes, ears etc., the series of Bhavaṅga citta cease and sense door consciousness followed by sense consciousness such as eye consciousness, ear consciousness etc., arise continuously. This is actually what is happening when you see, hear, etc., According to this process of arising of consciousness, mind appears one by one in a continuous series, fresh mind arising then vanishing. The cuti citta of last existence had ceased then and there. The consciousness of the present life is the new one that has arisen afresh, conditioned by previous kamma. Every citta is fresh arising, not a renewal of the old one.
Therefore, the Yogī, who watches the phenomenon of rise and fall, takes note of a thought when it makes its appearance. When thus noted by him, his thought, or the thinking mind at once disappears. Perceiving this phenomenon, he concludes that death means the termination of the continuity of mind after the last cuti citta has ceased. And new becoming means, just like the present mind arising afresh all the time, the first arising of a fresh series of mind in a new place in a new existence. And bhavaṅga citta is the continuous arising, depending on its kammic force, of similar fresh mind starting with the very first mind at the moment of conception. The mind which knows the phenomenon of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking etc., is the mind that arises afresh from the life continuum. In this way the Yogī knows how mind arises and perishes and from this personal experiences he can make inferences about the death consciousness, cuti citta, and relinking consciousness, patisandhe citta.
LAW OF DEPENDENT ORIGINATION IS KNOWN THROUGH KNOWLEDGE
OF ROUND OF KAMMA AND ROUND OF KAMMA RESULT
Here, knowing that fresh mind arises conditioned by kamma amounts to knowing the Law of Dependent Origination through the knowledge of round of kamma and round of kamma result. Therefore we find in Visuddhimagga: "Having discerned the conditions of nāma, rūpa in this way (that there is no doer, nor one who reaps the deed's results. just phenomena arising from cause and effect rolling on by means of the round of kamma and round of kamma result, and having abandoned uncertainty (Is there Soul, self? Why has self arisen? -- pondering in this manner), about the three periods of time, then all past, future and present Dhammas are understood by him in accordance with knowledge of death and rebirth linking processes.
Here, in this manner of discernment, "by means of the round of kamma" includes also causes such as avijjā, taṇhā, upādam and saṅkhāra. In addition, by discerning the first rebirth linking consciousness that have arisen in between in the course of one existence become known. Also by knowing all the consciousness with respect to the present life, the consciousness with respect to the past and future existences could also be discerned. Knowing the mind is knowing the mental concomitants that accompany the mind and also the material base on which mind is dependent. Therefore Visuddhimagga has said, as quoted above, 'all past, future and present Dhammas are understood by him.'
CONTEMPLATION OF MIND WITH REGARD TO THREE ASPECTS OF TIME
As Yogī knows in this way that starting from rebirth consciousness continuous series of mind arises and vanishes, it is clear to him that the mind of previous existences had ceased then and there and does not reach this existence. It is clear also that the minds of the present existence cease at the respective moments of their becoming. Therefore the Yogī is in a position to discern all the past, future and present minds with his personal knowledge. We shall recite how we discern them:
1. The consciousness of the past does no reach the present; it had ceased then and there. It is therefore of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
2. The consciousness of the present life does not go over to the next existence. It is ceasing and vanishing away presently and is therefore of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
3. The consciousness of the future life will not reach the future of a much later existence. It will cease and perish at the moment of its becoming and is therefore of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
This is how consciousness is considered roughly with respect to three periods of time. To the Yogī who keeps on noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, if thoughts arise while thus noting, he notes the fact thus: 'thinking, thinking'. In this way the thoughts vanish away. When he hears he notes, 'hearing, hearing' and the ear consciousness disappears instantly. He does not think like the ordinary person that he keeps on hearing for a long time. He finds that he hears intermittently; hearing, disappearing, hearing, disappearing, the ear consciousness vanishes in successive of sections.
Likewise when noting the touch consciousness, it is seen disappearing quickly. When concentration is specially strong, the eye consciousness rises and vanishes, rises and vanishes in quick succession. Nose consciousness and taste consciousness should be considered in a similar away. The noting mind is also perceived to be alternately noting and disappearing. In short, with every noting, the object noted as well as the knowing mind keeps on arising and vanishing is pairs.
To the Yogī who is thus perceiving the phenomena very clearly, the eye consciousness does not reach the moment of noting, thinking, hearing; it vanishes at the instant of seeing. Hence he realizes it is impermanent. Similarly, noting mind, thinking mind, hearing mind do not reached moments of noting, thinking and hearing. Hence, the Yogī realizes they are impermanent. We shall recite how they are contemplated upon.
1. The eye consciousness, ear consciousness, touch consciousness and thinking mind etc., which appeared a moments ago do not reach the present moments of seeing, hearing etc. They perished away and ceased and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
2. The eye consciousness, ear consciousness, touch consciousness and thinking mind which are presently arising do not reach the next of seeing hearing etc. They are vanishing and ceasing now and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
3. The eye consciousness, ear consciousness etc., which will arise in future will not reach the moment next to that future instant. They will perish away and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Knowing in this way personally how consciousness arises and vanishes in one's body, it came inferred that, just like the consciousnesses which have been noted, all the consciousness which remain to be noted, consciousness in other people, in the whole world, all consciousnesses are arising and vanishing.
It can be concluded by inference that just as those consciousness which have been noted and are found to be impermanent, consciousness in other people will also be constantly ceasing and perishing. Those in the whole world too will be ceasing and perishing. Therefore, all consciousnesses are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We have considered all types of consciousnesses, but there remains consideration of consciousnesses from some other aspects as internally, externally etc.
CONSIDERATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY
(4&5). 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, the consciousness perishes and ceases and is, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
CONSIDERATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS AS GROSS OR FINE
Angry mind is coarse; other types of mind are fine compared to it. Amongst angry minds, that which is violent enough to commit murder, to torture others, cause destruction to other's properties, to speak abusive, threatening language is coarse; ordinary irritated mind is fine, subtle. Greedy mind is soft compared to angry mind; but the greedy mind which is intense enough to steal other's properties, to commit wrong acts, to use low, vulgar language is coarse. Ordinary desire or wish is fine. Deluded mind (ignorant mind) compared to greedy mind and angry mind is mild; but the ignorant mind which finds fault with and shows disrespect to true Buddha, true Dhamma and true Sanghā is coarse. Ordinary doubting mind, perplexed mind (dispersed) is subtle. More subtle than all these Akusala cittas are the kusala cittas. And amongst the kusala cittas, gladness and heartiness are coarse; kusala citta which is unruffled and tranquil is fine.
The Yogī who is engaged in constant noting perceives, while noting the arising and vanishing of coarse as well as fine minds, that the coarse mind does not reach the moment of arising of fine mind and the fine mind does not reach the moment of arising of the coarse mind. They vanish at the respective moments of their arising.
CONTEMPLATION ON MIND
While the Yogī contemplating on the rise and fall, if the mind arises with lust, he notes it as mind with lust, with desire. This is knowing the mind with lust as it truly is, "sa rāgam vā cittam sa rāgam cittamti pajānāti," in accordance with Satipaṭhāna Sutta. When noted thus, the mind with lust ceases and is followed by a continuous stream of mind made up of kusala citta of noting and the kiriyā citta, vipāka citta and kusala javana citta which are concerned with ordinary acts of seeing, hearing etc. These kusala citta, kiriya citta and vipāka citta are noted as they arise, seeing, hearing, touching, knowing etc. This is knowing the mind without lust, kusala citta, kiriya citta, vipāka citta and abyākata citta, as it truly is, in accordance with, "vitaragan vā cittam vitaragan cittamti pajānāti" of Satipaṭhāna Sutta. Noting and knowing the mind with lust as well as the mind without lust in this manner is contemplation of the mind with mindfulness.
For your edification and general knowledge, we wish to touch upon the exposition given in the Commentary. The Commentary defines the mind with lust as eight kinds of consciousness accompanied by greed. This is then the enumeration of lustful minds. Thus if the mind is lustful, it must be one of the eight consciousness rooted in attachment. But, here, just considering that eight kinds of consciousness rooted in attachment is known as saraga, mind with lust, does not amount to the contemplation on mind with mindfulness.
Further vitaraga, mind without lust is defined as mundane kusala citta and abyākata citta. In addition the commentary states that because it is the object for consideration by Vipassanā ñāṇa, Supra mundane citta is not classified as vitaraga, mind without lust, vitadosa, mind without ill-will etc. Neither of the two kinds of consciousness is ill-will and the two rooted in delusion is also classified as mind without lust.
At one time when we had no knowledge of meditation, we were assailed by doubt why the consciousness rooted in ill-will and that rooted in delusion were not classified as mind without lust. Only when we had acquired knowledge through the practice of meditation did we realize and understand how correct and natural was the Commentary exposition. Because, when the mind with lust is contemplated on and noted, it at once ceases and in its place arise only kusala citta, kiriya, vipāka and abyākata citta; it is not usual for ill-will and delusion to arise then. Therefore at that time only the kusala citta which is involved in noting or the vipāka abyākata, avijjana abyākata citta involved in acts of seeing etc., and the kusala javana citta only are contemplated on. Thus the definition of vitaraga, mind without lust, as kusala abyākata citta is very natural and is in keeping with what the Yogīs find through personal experiences.
When ill-will arises in the course of noting the rise and fall, that has to be noted. The ill-will vanishes at once and in its place there arises kusala citta of the act of noting the abyākata and kusala javana citta of acts of seeing etc. The Yogī knows this mind without ill-will by noting it too. When the mind with delusion, that is, doubtful mind, distracted mind appears, they are noted as usual and they disappear. In its place there arise kusala citta of the act of noting, the abyākata and kusala javana citta of acts of seeing etc. The Yogī knows this mind without delusion, vitamoha, by noting.
Further when sloth and torpor make their appearance while noting the rise and fall, these have to be noted as 'sloth', 'torpor'. These vanish away at once and mindfulness arise in their place. This is noted by the Yogī before he reverts to the rise and fall.
Again, while engaged in noting of rise and fall, if distraction and restlessness appear, it is noted as 'distraction', 'restlessness', 'thinking', etc. When noted thus, restlessness disappears, the mind remains still, tranquil, This state of mind is also to be noted.
When the concentration is good and the mind rests still on the object under contemplation, this quiet mind is also known automatically. When restlessness appears then, it is noted and the mind becomes still again. All these changes in the state of mind are heedfully noted; the mind which is noted and contemplated on is called vimutta, free of defilements. The mind which misses (remains) to be noted and contemplated upon is avimutta, not free of defilements. The Yogī takes note of all these states of mind.
This is how mind is contemplated on as taught by the Blessed One in the Satipaṭhāna Sutta. According to this mind contemplation practice, mind with lust and desire, with ill-will, distracted mind, restless mind are all of coarse variety. When free of those coarse mind, there arise in their place kusala citta and abyākata citta which are fine minds. Therefore, the Yogī engaged in watching the phenomena presently taking place perceives that the coarse mind does not reach the moment of fine mind etc.
CONTEMPLATION AS GROSS OR FINE
(6&7). The coarse mind does not reach the moment of arising of the mind; the fine mind does not reach the moment of arising of coarse mind. They cease and vanish at the respective moments of their arising and are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
Classification of mind according to inferior and superior status is similar to classification of inferior and superior saṅkhāras. We shall recite thus:
(8&9). The inferior akusala citta does not reach the moment of arising of kusala abyākata citta; the superior kusala citta also does not reach the moment of arising of the inferior akusala citta. They cease and vanish away at the moments of their respective arising and are, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. The kusala citta of charitableness does not reach the moment of arising of kusala citta of moral precepts or of meditation. The kusala citta of moral precepts of meditation does not reach the moment of arising of kusala citta of charitableness. The kusala citta of moral precepts does not reach the moment of arising of kusala citta of meditation; and vice versa. The concentration meditation citta does not reach the moment of insight meditation; the insight meditation citta also does not reach the moment of concentration meditation. They all cease and pass away at the respective moments of their arising.
The ordinary person not used to noting the phenomena of seeing, hearing etc thinks that when he looks at a near object, after looking at a distant object, the mind which sees the distant object comes closer and nearer to him, when he looks at a distant object after seeing a near object, he thinks the mind which sees the near object has gone away to a distance. Similarly when a sound is heard from nearby while a distant sound is being heard, it is presumed that the mind which hears the distant sound has moved nearer; when a sound is heard from a distance while a nearby sound is being heard, it is presumed that the mind which hears the nearby sound has moved away to a distance. From smelling a distant smell, when internal odour is smelt, it is thought the mind from afar has come nearer. While smelling odour of one's body, when odour from outside is smelt, the mind which is nearby appears to have gone afar.
While touching sensation is being felt at a distance, for instance, on the feet, when another touching sensation is felt on one's breast or chest, the distant sensation appears to have moved closer; and vice versa. While thinking of distant object, one thinks of a nearby object and it appears that the distant mind has come nearer; and vice versa. (From seeing a distant object, if a nearby sound is heard, a nearby smell is smelt etc, it appears that the distant seeing mind has moved nearer to become hearing mind or tasting mind etc.,) In short, it is the general belief that there is only one permanent mind; the same mind is believed to know every thing near and far.
The Yogī who notes every phenomenon of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking knows with his own knowledge that the mind from afar does not come nearer; the mind close by also does not go afar. At respective moments of their arising, they pass away. We shall recite thus:
(10&11). The mind that is conscious of acts of seeing, hearing, thinking etc., in the far distance does not come nearer; the mind that is conscious of acts of seeing, hearing, thinking etc., near by does not go afar. At respective moments of their arising, they all vanish away and, hence, are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We have finished consideration of consciousness under eleven heads. We shall recapitulate how these are contemplated on and bring our discourse to a close.
"All consciousness, whether past, future or present internal or external gross or fine, inferior or superior; far or near should be seen with own knowledge as they truly are: 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self.'
By virtue of having given respectful attention to this discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, may you all attain and realize soon, the Nibbāna, by means of the Path and Fruition of your own wish.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the Seventh Part of the Discourse
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE ANATTALAKKHAṆA SUTTA
(Delivered on the full moon day and the 8th waxing day of Tawthalin, 1325 M.E.)
We have already delivered ten discourses on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta and covered seven parts of it. This eight part will mark the termination of this series of discourses. The original Sutta is divided into four sections. The first section deals with the Teaching that 'the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa tend to afflict and are, therefore, not Self the inner essence; being unmanageable and not subject to control is not Self, the inner essence.'
The second part deals with the question 'Are the five aggregates permanent or impermanent? Suffering or happiness?, and explains that it is not fitting to regard that which is not permanent, suffering, subject to change as 'This is mine, This I am, This is my self.'
In the third part, the five aggregates are classified and enumerated under eleven heads and it is taught to contemplate on them as 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self (as anicca, dukkha, anatta).'
In the eighth part which we will deal with today, the Blessed One has taught how, for the Yogī who is perceiving the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta, the knowledge of insight is developed step by step and how nibbinda ñāṇa is developed leading to the attainment of the knowledge of the Path and Fruition and final liberation as an Arahat.
HOW INSIGHT KNOWLEDGE IS DEVELOPED
(THE LAST PORTION OF THE SUTTA)
"Evam passam, Bhikkhave, sutavā ariyasāvako, rūpasamimpi nibbindati vedanāyapi nibbindati saññāyapi nibbindati saṅkhāresupi nibbindati viññāṇasamimpi nibbindati."
'Bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple, seeing thus, gets wearied of matter, gets wearied of feeling, gets wearied of perception, gets wearied of mental formations, gets wearied of consciousness.'
In this way, the Blessed One taught how nibbinda ñāṇa, knowledge of things as disgusting is developed, 'Seeing thus,' in the above passage means seeing, anicca, dukkha and anatta as instructed. He becomes the instructed disciple fully quipped with knowledge from hearing as well as knowledge from personal experience.
He has learnt from hearing that, in order to perceiving the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta in the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhara and viññāṇa, one has to take note of every act of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking. He has also heard about the fact that one has to contemplate on the five group of grasping of just nāma, rūpa and that knowing by taking note is nāma. He has also learnt from hearing about cause and effect, about the nature of incessant arising and vanishing, impermanence and insubstantiality. All of this constitutes knowledge acquired from hearing, hearsay or learning. The Yogīs are accomplished in this form of knowledge even before they are engaged in meditation.
Then while taking note of rising, falling, bending, stretching, moving, extending, pressing, feeling hard, coarse, soft, smooth, hot, cold, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, the Yogī realizes that the objects he is taking note are rūpas and knowing these objects is nāma; that there are only this rūpa and nāma. When he takes note of eye consciousness, ear consciousness, is nāma and the location of this consciousness, is rūpa; that there are only these two. Our audience here knows in this way too. This is the knowledge acquired through personal experience.
Further, when he wants to bend, he bends; he want to stretch, stretches; he wants to go, he goes. Noting all these, he comes to realize that he bends because he wants to, he stretches because he wants to, goes because he wants to; there is no living entity making him to bend, stretch or go. There is only respective causes for each of the result produced. This is also knowledge from personal experience.
When he fails to take note of the phenomena, he can not see them as they really are; he develops liking for them; from liking comes craving for them. Because he craves for them, he has to put in efforts to gain them, thereby producing kusala and akusala kammas. In consequence of these kammas, there are new becomings. In this way, he comes to understand the Law of dependent Origination concerning the cause and effects of phenomena.
Again, both the objects of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa and the knowing mind keep on arising afresh and perishing. He, therefore, knows rightly, as the Blessed One had instructed, that they are of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.
As stated above, various kinds of knowledge beginning with that of differentiation between nāma and rūpa, right up to knowledge about their nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta are all gained by personal experience, not from hearing or learning. We dare say that the present audience has many members who are equipped with such personal knowledge. Thus we say that the person who can perceive the true nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta through personal experience is one who is well instructed, equipped with both the knowledge of hearing or learning and the knowledge from personal experience. It goes without saying that the Group of five Bhikkhus, present at the time of discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, being Sotāpanas, are fully equipped with both types of knowledge and are, therefore, fully instructed.
The disciple of the Blessed One who is thus fully instructed can perceive, with his own knowledge, the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa as they manifest themselves at every moment of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing to be of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. The Yogī who can perceive in this way soon reaches the stage of Udayabbaya ñāṇa which discerns the rapid arising and dissolution of rūpa and nāma. According to Vasuddhi Magga, when that stage is reached, the Yogī witnesses strange lights and aura; he experiences an unprecedented happiness, intense joy (pīti) and quietude. He also experiences lightness in body and mind, softness and gentleness, vigour and uprightness. He thus feels indescribably pleasant and fine in body and mind. This mindfulness is so perfect that it may be said that there is nothing he is not mindful of; intellectually so keen and sharp that it seems there is nothing he cannot comprehend. His religious fervour increases and his faith and devotion in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sanghā grows, unprecedentedly clear and bright.
But all these strange 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 reached with appearance of the Bhaṅga ñāṇa. At the time, object of meditation and meditating mind are perceived to be disintegrating, perishing pair by pair. For instance, when the rising is noted, the rising vanishes as well as the noting mind. Each act of rising is discerned to be vanishing in successive separate disappearances. This is discerned at every moment of noting. It even appears that the object of meditation perishes away first, and noting of it seems to come later. This is of course, what actually happens. When arising of thought is contemplated on, the noting mind arises only after that thought has disappeared. The same thing happens whilst noting other objects. The noting takes place only after the object to be noted has disappeared. But when the 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 Sutta teaching that only the present moment is contemplated on.
Perceiving the continuous process of dissolution happening rapidly, one come to know that death may come along at any time and this is a dangerous, terrible state of affairs. This is knowledge of dangerousness or terror, Bhaya ñāṇa. When it is seen as dangerous the understanding arises (of fearful things) as baneful, blameworthy. This is ādinava ñāṇa. The Yogī no longer finds delight in these baneful aggregates of rūpa and nāma. He finds them detestable, disgusting, which is Nibbidā ñāṇa. The Blessed One was referring to this state of mind when he said, 'Rūpasmim pi nibbindati ... He gets wearied of rūpa ...'
Before the knowledge is developed on to this stage of Nibbidā ñāṇa, a person is feeling quite satisfied and happy with his physical form of the present existence; satisfied and happy with the expectation of human physical form or celestial physical form in the future existence. He craves for and looks forward to, with great expectation, happiness of human existence, celestial existence, with beautiful body, healthy body. With the arising of this knowledge, he does not feel happy any more. The so-called happiness of human life is made up of incessantly arising and perishing body and mind. He also visualizes that the so-called happiness in a celestial being is similarly constituted of instantly perishing nāma and rūpa, for which he has developed detestation and disgust. It is just like the fisherman holding a dangerous snake, thinking it to be the fish he had caught. But once he realized that he had in his hand a dangerous snake instead of a fish, he became alarmed and detested with it, badly wanting to get rid of it, to release his hold on it. This illustration was described fully in our discourse on the Sīlavanta Sutta.
Furthermore, before the advent of the Nibbidā ñāṇa, he takes delight in all the vedanās, sensations, he is enjoying now; yearns for the pleasurable sensations of the human or celestial worlds in the future existences. He takes delight in the good saññās, perceptions, he is blessed with now; he longs for and 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 how they would like to be reborn as a human being and what they would like to do when reborn as such. Some indulge and rejoice in day-dreaming and ideation now and look forward to doing similarly in coming existences. But when Nibbidā ñāṇa is developed, he sees the ever rising and perishing vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa as they truly are and he feels a distaste for them. Just as they are fast perishing away now, whether reborn as a human being or celestial being, the vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa will always be disintegrating fast. Considering thus, he feels dispassionate towards all these formations (aggregates), and is dissatisfied with them. It is essential that he becomes genuinely dissatisfied and disgusted with them.
Only when genuine disgust and distaste is developed towards them, that knowledge as regards the wish to escape from them, to discard them, arises and he continues on striving to really get rid of them. It is then that saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa will appear and when that ñāṇa is fully developed, Nibbāna can be realized through attainment of the knowledge of the Noble Path and Fruition, to become real Sotāpam, Sagadāgam, Anāgam and Arahat. Thus it is very essential to really strive hard for the development of genuine Nibbidā ñāṇa. It is for this reason that the Blessed One had taught.
NIBBINDA ÑĀṆA DEVELOPED WHEN ANICCA IS SEEN
"Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā, yadā paññā ya passati, Atha nibbindati dukkhe, esa maggo visuddhiyā."
"All compounded things, which arises as conditioned by kamma, mind, seasonal variations and food, are transient. When one comprehends this truth by vipassanā ñāṇa, then does one get dissatisfied and disgusted with all this suffering (all the compounded things of nāma and rūpa ). This dissatisfaction and disgust is the true and right path to purity, to Nibbāna, free from all defilements and sufferings.
The Yogī who takes note of every act of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing as it arises perceives only the phenomenon which is rapidly rising and vanishing. He knows, therefore, things as they truly are -- all transient and impermanent. With this knowledge of impermanence, comes the realization that there is nothing delightful and pleasant in the present mind and body: the future mind and body having the same nature of impermanence will also be undelightful and unpleasant. He, therefore, develops distaste and disgust for all the nāma and rūpas from which he wants to be free. And he strives for the liberation by continuing with his meditation. Thereby saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa appears and Nibbāna is realized through the Noble Path. Therefore, the Blessed One taught that Vippassanā which sees only dissatisfaction and disgust is the true path to Nibbāna.
NIBBINDA ÑĀṆA DEVELOPED WHEN DUKKHA IS SEEN
"Sabbe saṅkhāra dukkhāti; yadā paññā ya passati, Atha nibbindati dukkhe, esa maggo visuddhiyā."
"All compounded things, which arise as conditioned by kamma, mind, seasonal variations and food, are suffering. When one comprehends this truth --
A certain person has interpreted the word 'saṅkhāra' in this verse to mean the concomitant cetanā, which produces wholesome and unwholesome actions. Thus according to him, the unwholesome acts of charity, keeping precepts etc are all saṅkhāras and hence suffering. Practicing concentration meditation, insight meditation too are saṅkhāra. All types of action are thus productive of suffering. So in order to attain the Peace of Nibbāna, engage in no activity. Keep the mind as it is." Thus he was misrepresenting (misinterpreting) the teaching to suit his purpose. He has disciples who, accepting his views, are spreading his wrong teaching.
As a matter of fact, the 'saṅkhāra' of this verse is not intended to convey the meaning of kusala, akusala saṅkhāra which arise out of ignorance. Here saṅkhāras mean simply the nāmas and rūpas which arise as conditioned by kamma, mind, seasonal variations and food. Again, the nāmas, rūpas do not include the supra-mundane path and fruition consciousness and mental concomitants which form the object of Vipassanā meditation. Only the mundane rūpas nāmas, which come under the three classes of spheres (Sense sphere, form sphere and formless sphere) is meant here, the same as the saṅkhāra of the previous verse. Thus all nāmas, rūpas which manifest themselves at every moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking are incessantly arising and vanishing and transient. Because of impermanence, it is suffering. This is what is meant here.
"All compounded things which arise as conditioned by kamma, mind, seasonal variations and food are suffering. When one comprehends this truth by knowledge of Vipassanā as bhaṅga ñāṇa is being developed, then one does get dissatisfied and disgusted with all this suffering; this dissatisfaction and disgust is the true and right path to purity, to Nibbāna, free from all defilements and sufferings."
The Yogī perceives that all the nāmas, rūpas which manifest themselves at the moment of seeing, hearing etc., are undergoing instant dissolution and are, therefore, transient. Because they are impermanent and liable to be faced with death (to disintegrate) any moment, the Yogī perceives them as dreadful suffering. For some Yogīs, unpleasant sensations such as feeling stiff, hot, painful, itchy etc., keep on manifesting themselves on various parts of the body. At every manifesting, these sensations are noted, thereby enabling the Yogī to perceive the whole body as a mass of suffering. This is in accordance with the Teaching 'Dukkhamaddakkhi sallato' which says that vipassanā ñāṇa perceives the body as a mass of suffering caused by piercing thorns or spikes.
It may be asked 'what difference is there between the unbearable pain experienced by an ordinary person and that experienced by the meditator. The difference lies in the fact that the ordinary person feels the pain, 'I feel unbearable pain. I am suffering.'
But the Yogī knows this unpleasant feeling without any atta clinging, perceiving it as just a phenomenon of unpleasantness, rising afresh again and again, and perishing away instantly. This is vipassanā ñāṇa, knowledge of insight, without any atta clinging.
When perceived either as dreadful suffering because of impermanence or as a mass of unbearable suffering, there is no delight in the compounded things, the heap of suffering but disgust in them. There is dissatisfaction and weariness with regard to the present nāmas and rūpa as well as with those of the future .. a total distaste and disliking for all nāmas, rūpas. This is development of Nibbindā ñāṇa. When this ñāṇa is developed thus, there arises the wish to discard the nāmas, rūpas, to get free of them. He continues on with the work of meditation in order to achieve the freedom. In time, while endeavouring on, saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa arises and Nibbāna is realized, by means of the knowledge of the Ariya Path. Therefore, the Blessed One had described the vipassanā ñāṇa, which considers all saṅkhāras as suffering and is disgusted with them, as the Path to Nibbāna.
In a similar manner, the Blessed One taught how they perceived as Non-self and therefore, regarded with disgust and dislike.
NIBBINDA ÑĀṆA DEVELOPED WHEN ANATTA IS SEEN
"Sabbe Dhammā anattāti; yadā paññā ya passati, Atha nibbindati dukkhe, esa maggo visuddhiyā."
Here Dhamma in this verse has the same purpose as saṅkhāra of the above two verse, and means mundane nāma and rūpa as perceived by vipassanā ñāṇa. Anatta is Dhamma and Dhamma, phenomenon, thus means anatta. In order to bring out more clearly the meaning of saṅkhāras which are non-self, anatta, the word Dhamma is employed here. This is the explanation given in the commentary and we believe it is quite appropriate and acceptable. But there are other views which hold that the Dhamma is purposely used here to include the supra mundane Path. Fruition and unconditioned Nibbāna as well. We believe this interpretation is not quite tenable. The ordinary person perceives the saṅkhāras such as acts to seeing, hearing etc., as permanent, pleasant, whereas the Yogī sees these saṅkhāras as transient, and suffering. Likewise what the ordinary person regards as self, namely the mundane rūpas and nāmas, the Yogī sees them as non-self, anatta. The Yogī need not and cannot perceive the supra-mundane things, which could not have been his objects of contemplation and for which he could have no attachments. Thus it must be taken that Dhamma here means just mundane saṅkhāras, nāmas and rūpas which can form the objects of Vipassanā contemplation.
"All mundane nāmas, rūpas such as acts of seeing, hearing, etc., are not Self, not living entity. When one comprehends this truth by Vipassanā contemplation when reaching the stage of Bhaṅga ñāṇa, then does one get dissatisfied and disgusted with all this suffering; this dissatisfaction and disgust is the true and right path to purity, to Nibbāna, free from all defilements and sufferings."
Because the ordinary person believes the nāma, rūpa represented by acts of seeing, hearing etc., to be self, living entity, they take delight in them and feels happy about them. But the Yogī sees in them only phenomena of incessant arising and perishing and realize, therefore, they are not self, atta, mere process of phenomena. As explained in this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, because they tend to afflict, they are seen to be not atta, and being not subjected to one's control, one's will, not-self, not atta. Thus the Yogī takes no more delight and finds pleasure in these nāmas and rūpas. There arises the wish to discard them, to get free of them. He continues on with the work of meditation in order to achieve the freedom. In time, while endeavouring on Saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa arises and Nibbāna is realized by means of the knowledge of the Ariya Path. Therefore, the Blessed One had described the vipassanā ñāṇa, which considers all sṇakhāras of nāmas and rūpas as anatta, non-self and is disgusted with them, as the Path to Nibbāna.
The three stanzas, where it is taught that Nibbinda ñāṇa appears when dislike and distaste for the saṅkhāras are developed and that this Nibbinda ñāṇa is the true and right path to Nibbāna, should be carefully noted. Unless the saṅkhāras represented by nāma and rūpa are seen by one's own experience as incessantly arising and disintegrating instantly, the true vipassanā ñāṇa which perceives them as anicca, dukkha and anatta is not really developed. And without the development of genuine knowledge of anicca, dukkha and anatta, the Nibbinda ñāṇa which find distaste and dislike for the sufferings of nāma and rūpa saṅkhāras will not arise. And in the absence of this knowledge of Nibbinda ñāṇa it is impossible to realize Nibbāna. Only with personal knowledge of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta, will weariness develop on the saṅkhāras and nibbinda ñāṇa, appear. And it is only after the appearance of this Nibbinda ñāṇa will come the knowledge of the Path and Fruition followed by the realization of Nibbāna. This must be definitely understood and noted. It is for this reason that the Blessed One had stated in this sutta. "Evam passam, Bhikkhave, sutavā ariya sāvako, rūpasmimpi nibbindati etc." ... There are many Suttas in which similar Teaching was given by the Buddha. Let us recapitulate on this point:
"Bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple seeing thus (seeing rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāras viññāṇa as 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self') get wearied of matter, gets wearied of feeling, gets wearied of perception, gets wearied of consciousness.
DEFINITION OF NIBBINDA ÑĀṆA
In the above Pāḷi Text, 'Seeing thus' is a summarised statement of development of knowledge of Vipassanā up to the stage of Bhaṅga ñāṇa. And with the words 'wearied of ...' development of vipassanā ñāṇa form Bhaṅga, Ādīnva, Nibbinda right up to Vuthāna gāmini, is very concisely described. Thus in the commentary to Mūlapaṇṇāsa, we find this exposition:
"Nibbindati ti. Ettha ca nibbidāti vuthānagāminī vipassanā adhippetā."
"Nibbindati ti ... to feel weainess means feeling bored, feeling displeased, unhappy. To explain further, the words 'Nibbidāti etc' should be taken to mean the Vipassanā which reaches right up to Ariya Path known as Vutthāna.
In the Patismbbidāmagga and Visuddhimagga, Nibbinda ñāṇa is enumerated under seven heads of successive stages of development, namely, Bhaṅga ñāṇa, ādīnava. Nibbinda, muncitukamyatā ñāṇa, Patisaṅkhāra, Saṅkhārupakkhā and Vutthāna gāminī vipassanā ñāṇa. We have so far explained up to the stage of Nibbinda. We shall now continue on with the rest.
GENUINE DESIRE FOR NIBBĀNA OR SEMBLANCE OF IT
When the Yogī finds only rapid dissolution and disintegration, at every instance of contemplation, he becomes wearied of and displeased with the aggregates of nāma, rūpa manifested in the acts of seeing, hearing etc. Then, he does not wish to hold onto those nāmas and rūpas; rather he wants to abandon them. He realizes only in the absence of these incessantly rising and perishing nāma and rūpas will there be Peace. This is the development (arising) of wish for true, genuine Nibbāna. Formerly, imagining Nibbāna to be something like a great metropolis, the wish to reach there arose then with a hope of permanent enjoyment of all that the heart desires. This is not desire for genuine Nibbāna, but only for mundane type of happiness. Those who have not really seen the dangers and faults of nāma and rūpa only wish for enjoyment of mundane type of bliss. They cannot have the idea of complete cessation of all nāma, rūpa, including every form of enjoyment.
THE NIBBANIC BLISS
At one time, the Venerable Sāriputta was uttering, "This Nibbāna is blissful; this Nibbāna is blissful". Then a certain young Bhikkhu by the name of Lāludāyī asked him "The Venerable Sāriputta, there is no sensation in Nibbāna; So nothing to experience, is it not? Then what is blissful in Nibbāna where there is no sensation?" He raised this point not understanding fully well that Nibbāna is void of all nāmas and rūpas and therefore void of sensation too. The Venerable Sāriputta's reply to this argument was, "The fact that there is no sensation to experience is itself blissful." True it is that peace and tranquility is more blissful than any sensation which is felt to be pleasant, delightful. This is true bliss. A sensation is regarded to be blissful, delightful because of liking for it, craving for it. Without liking for it, no sensation can be regarded to be delightful. A moment's consideration will prove this point. A tasty food appears delightful and delicious whilst there is liking for it craving for it. When one is not feeling well, with no appetite, or when one has eaten well and is already full, the same tasty food will no longer look appealing. If forced to eat it, there can be no enjoyment in eating it; it will not be regarded as something good and delicious, but rather as terrible and suffering. Take another example .. a beautiful sight, a pleasant sound. How long can one keep on looking at a beautiful sight, listen to a pleasant sound. How many hours, days, months, years? The interest in them cannot last continuously even 24 hours, after which there will appear actually distaste and dislike for them. To have to continue on looking at that sight or listening to that sound will become a terrible suffering then. It is clear, therefore, that to be without any liking or craving, to be without sensation (feeling) is to be blissful. A detailed account on this a subject has been given in our discourse on "Concerning Nibbāna."
LOOKING FORWARD TO NIBBĀNA
The Yogī who is developing the Nibbinda ñāṇa truly perceives the baneful aspects of nāma, rūpa and has become weary of and disgusted with them. He knows that in Nibbāna, where there is no nāma, rūpa, no sensation, lies real peace and, therefore, longs for it. This is, like scanning the distance from a lookout post, looking forward to Nibbāna by means of muncitukamyatā ñāṇa, knowledge of liberation. As the will to attain real Nibbāna and desire to liberate himself from the ills of nāma and rūpa develop, he makes further striving. With this doubling of effort, he gains patisaṅkhā ñāṇa, (knowledge of reflecting on what has been contemplated) which comprehends the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta more deeply than previously. Especially more pronounced and distinct is the understanding of the nature and characteristics of suffering, ills. When patisaṅkhā ñāṇa gains in strength and maturity, he gains saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa, knowledge of developing equanimity towards all conditioned things, the nāmas and rūpas.
This is a general description of how, starting from sammāsana ñāṇa, the series of vipassanā ñāṇa gradually develop step by step in a Neyya individual. With the noble persons such as Sotāpana, within a few moments after the start of meditation, they may attain to the stage of saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa. There is no doubt that the five Bhikkhus listening to the discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta reached this stage instantly.
THE SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF SAṄKHĀRUPAKKHĀ ÑĀṆA
(1) FREE FROM FEAR AND DELIGHT
Saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa is distinguished by six characteristics. The first characteristic is maintenance of equanimity unmoved by fear or unpleasurableness as stated in Visudhimagga 'Bhayañca nandiñca vippahāya sabba saṅkhāresu udasino. ' How has this equanimity come about? At the stage of Bhaya ñāṇa, he has contemplated on the fearsome danger and the knowledge developed thereby is characterized by fear. At this stage of saṅkhārupakhā ñāṇa, all signs of fear have disappeared. At the stage of ādīnava, he regards all things as baneful; at the stage of nibbinda, all things are distasteful and disgusting to him. He develops desire to discard all the aggregates, to escape from all these at the muncitukamyatā stage. When he reaches the stage of saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa, all these characteristics of lower ñāṇa, namely, seeing banefulness, feeling distaste and disgust, desire to escape and putting in extra ordinary efforts have disappeared. The quotation "Bhayañca vippahāya ... abandoning fear". from Visuddhimagga is referring to the progress in knowledge which is free from fear. In accordance with this, it must be regarded that with the disappearance of fear, the other characteristics such as seeing banefulness, feeling disgust, desire to escape, extraordinary efforts etc., have also disappeared.
Furthermore, at the stage of Udayabbaya ñāṇa the Yogī has developed intense rapture and thrill, feeling highly exultant, Saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa is a development superior to Udayabbaya ñāṇa nevertheless, at the saṅkhārupakkhā stage, all these thrills and exultations are absent. Therefore, Visuddhimagga says; 'Nandiñca vippahāya ... abandoning delights.' He has abandoned the exultations and delighting in thrills and pleasures; he dwells contemplating on all the saṅkhāras as manifested in seeing, hearing etc., with complete equanimity. There is no longer great exuberance of gladness, happiness, delight such as that had occurred at the stage of Udayabbaya ñāṇa.
This is absence of fear or delight with respect to practice of Dhamma. With regard to mundane affairs too, it becomes plain how Yogī becomes free from fear and delight. When worrying news of worldly affairs and with respect to one's every day life, reaches the Yogī who has attained the saṅkhārupakkha stage of development, he remains unperturbed, not much moved by worry, anxiety or fear. He remains unperturbed too when he meets with gladdening things, not moved much by exultation, rejoicing or delight. These are then freedom from fear and delights in worldly matters.
(2) EQUANIMITY BETWEEN PLEASANT AND UNPLEASENT
The second characteristic is balanced attitude of mind, not feeling glad over pleasant things nor sad and depressed by distressing state of affairs. He can view things, both pleasant and unpleasant, impartially and with equanimity. The Pāḷi text quoted here is;
"cakkhunā rūpam disvā neva sumano hotī na dummano,
upekkhāko viharati, sato sampajano ..."
"Having seen the visible form with own eyes, Yogī remains unaffected by it, neither feeling glad nor unhappy over it, "However beautiful or attractive the sight is, the Yogī does not feel excited and jubilant over it; however ugly or repulsive the sight is, he remains unperturbed. He maintains an equanimous attitude, being mindful and knowing rightly."
Taking note of everything, pleasant or unpleasant when seen, and knowing its reality with reference to its nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta and developing neither (attachment) liking or aversion for it, he views the phenomena with impartiality. He observes with detached mind just to know the phenomenon of seeing which is perishing every moment. The Yogī who has attained the stage of saṅkhārupākkhā ñāṇa understands through personal experience how this observation may take place. This is how phenomenon of seeing is observed with equanimous attitude of mind.
The some thing holds true for all acts of hearing, smelling, knowing, touching, thinking where observation is made with equanimity just to know the phenomena of hearing etc.. This ability to watch the happening at the six doors of senses with unperturbed equanimity is known as chalangupekkhā, a special virtue of the Arahats. But the ordinary worldling who had attained to the stage of saṅkhārupakha ñāṇa can also become accomplished in a similar manner. According to the Commentary to the Aṅguttara, the Yogī who has advanced to the stage of Udayabbhaya ñāṇa can become equipped with this same virtue as an Arahat. But the accomplishment is not very prominent at this stage; it becomes more distinct at the Bhaṅga stage. But at he Saṅkhārupakkhā stage this virtue becomes well pronounced. Thus the Yogī who has reached this stage of development, sharing some of the virtues of an Arahat, deserves high esteem and respect of ordinary persons. Even if unknown and unesteemed by others, the Yogī himself, knowing personally his own virtue, should be well pleased and gratified with his own progress and development.
(3) EFFORTLESS CONTEMPLATION
The third characteristic is effortlessness in contemplation. "Saṅkhāra vicinane majjhattam hutvā ..." says the Visuddhi magga Text. "Taking a neutral attitude with regard to the practice of contemplation." This is supported and explained in its sub-commentary which says that "just as mental equilibrium is maintained in the matter of saṅkhāras as objects of contemplation, so also a neutral balance attitude should be taken with regard to practice of contemplation on them. "At the lower stages of development, the Yogī has to make great efforts for the appearance of the object for contemplation on them. At the stage of saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa, no special effort is needed for the appearance of objects for contemplation and there is no special endeavor to have them contemplated on. The objects appear of their own accord one by one, followed by effortless contemplation on them. Act of contemplation has become a smooth, easy process. These are the three characteristics concerning with equanimity and balanced conditions.
We shall next go on to the three special characteristics of the saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa.
(4) IT LASTS LONG
At the lower stages, it has not been an easy matter to keep the mind fixed on a certain object even for half an hour or one hour. At the saṅkhārupakkhā level, the concentration remains constant and steady for one hour, two hours, three hours. Such is within the experience for one hour, two hours, three hours. Such is within the experience of many of our Yogīs. It is within the experience of many of our Yogīs. It is for this characteristics of saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa that it is defined by Patisambhidāmagga as ñāṇa that lasts well. And the sub-commentary to the Visuddhimagga explains that it means "one long continuous process of development." Only when it lasts long it can be said to last well.
(5) BECOMES MORE SUBTLE WITH PASSING OF TIME
The fifth characteristic is getting finer and subtler just like sifting flour on the edge of a tray, as stated in the Visuddhimagga. The saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa from the moment of arising is subtle, but as time passes, it becomes still finer, finer and subtler, which phenomenon is within the experience of many of our Yogīs.
(6) THE ATTENTION IS NOT DISPERSED
The last characteristic is that of non-dispersion. At the lower levels, the concentration is not strong, the mind is dispersed over many objects. But at the level of saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa, the mind is almost completely not scattered or diffused at all. Not to say of other extraneous objects, even the objects appropriate for contemplation, the mind refuses to take them. While at the Bhaṅga ñāṇa level, mind is made to scatter over the various parts of the body and thus sensation of touch is felt on the whole of the body. At this stage, however, dispersing the mind becomes difficult: it remains fixed only on a few a 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 postures to be noted. Then the rising and falling will fade away, leaving only the touching. This cognition of touching may disappear altogether, leaving just the knowing mind being noted as 'knowing, knowing.' At such time when reflection is made on objects in which one is specially interested, it will be found that the mind does not stay long on these objects. It reverts back to the usual objects of contemplation. Thus it is said to be void of dispersion of concentration. The Visuddhimagga description is 'Patiliyati, patikutati, na sampasāriyati': "It retreats, retracts, and recoils; it does not spread out".
These are three signs or characteristics of saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa which should be experienced personally by oneself. When these characteristic signs are not yet experienced, one can decide for oneself that one has not yet developed up to this ñāṇa.
DEVELOPMENT OF VUTTHĀNAGĀMINĪ VIPASSANĀ
When the saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa, with these six characteristics, has become fully perfected, there appears a special kind of knowledge which seems to be fast moving; it looks as if it comes running with some speed. This special kind of cognition is known as vutthānagāmini vipassanā. Vutthāna means rising, gearing up from some place. Vipassanā ñāṇa is that which dwells on the continued process of incessantly arising and perishing of formations (nāma and rūpa). With each note of observation, it falls on this continuous process of ceaseless nāma and rūpa. From that stage, when ariyamagga ñāṇa is developed, its object becomes the cessation of the phenomena of nāma and rūpa. This means that it rises, object gets up from the continuous stream of nāma, rūpa and its becomes the Nibbāna. For this reason of getting up from the object of the continuous stream of nāma, rūpa, the ariyamagga is known as vutthāna. When the fast moving Vipassanā comes to an end, the ariyamagga otherwise vutthāna achieves the realization of Nibbāna. Thus the special Vipassanā appears to have gone over to the ariyamagga, having risen from the saṅkhāras which it has had as its objects previously; hence its name vuthānagāminī, having risen from the saṅkhāras and gone over to the ariyamagga.
This Vutthāna gāminī vipassanā arises while taking note of one of the six consciousness, mind consciousness, touch consciousness etc., which become manifest at that particular moment. While the Yogī contemplates on the rapidly perishing phenomena, he perceives the nature of impermanence; or he perceives the nature of unsatisfactoriness; or the nature of non-self, insubstantiality. This vutthānagāminī rises for at least two or three times; sometimes it may repeat itself four, five or even ten times. As described in the literature, at the last moment of vuthāngāminī, three thought moments parikamma (preparation), upacāra (approximation) and anuloma (adaptation) of functional javana appears, followed by one special moment of Kāmāvacara moral javana which takes as its object the Nibbāna where nāma, rūpa, saṅkhāras cease. After that javana, arises the Ariyamagga, which plunges into the object of Nibbāna, void of nāma, rūpa, cessation of all saṅkhāras. Immediately after magga javana arises the Ariya phala javana for two or three times. Its object is the same as that of the Ariyamagga. With the occurrence of the Ariya magga and phala javanas, the ordinary common worldling attains the status of a Sotāpanna; a Sotāpanna that of a Sagadāgam; a Sagadāgam that of an Anāgam; and an Anāgam finally becomes an Arahat.
The Kāmāvacara moral javana which takes Nibbāna as its object is known as Gotrabhū, the javana consciousness which overcomes the lineage of the ordinary common worldling. The Pātisambhida Magga defines Gotrabhū as follows:
"Rising from the objects of saṅkhāras which have the nature of becoming has the tendency to plunge headlong towards the object of Nibbāna, free from becoming and is, therefore, called Gotrabhū." Or, "Getting up from the object of continuous process of arising of nāma and rūpas, and plunging headlong towards the object of Nibbāna free from the continuous process of becoming."
This is how Gotrabhū consciousness rushes along towards the object of Nibbāna. The Ariyamagga also descends into Nibbāna towards which the Gotrabhū consciousness is inclined and rushes along.
The Milinda-paññā describes: "The mind of the Yogī who is contemplating and taking note, one phenomenon after another, step by step, overcomes the continuous stream of nāma and rūpa, which is flowing uninterruptedly, and plunges into the state or condition where the flowing stream of nāma and rūpa comes to cessation."
At first the Yogī has been completing, one noting after another and step by step on the ever rising phenomena of nāma and rūpa as manifested in acts of thinking, touching, hearing, seeing etc. He perceives only the continuous stream of the phenomena of nāma and rūpa which do not appear to come to an end at all. Whilst he is thus contemplating on the never ending phenomena of the nāma and rūpa and reflecting on their nature of anicca, dukkha, and anatta, there comes a time immediately after the last moment (parikamma, upacāra, and anuloma) of reflection, when the consciousness suddenly inclines towards and descends into the state where all the objects of contemplation and the contemplating mind come to complete cessation. The inclining is bending towards Gotrabhū consciousness whereas the descending is the realization of Nibbāna by mean of Ariya Path and Fruition. "Oh, great King, the Yogī having practiced meditation in a correct manner, and plunging into where there is termination, cessation of the phenomena of nāma and rūpa, is said to have realized the Nibbāna."
This is the textual account of how Vutthānagāmini vipassanā is realized and the Path and Fruition are also realized. Yogīs have found this account to be in conformity with what they have personally experienced.
How the texts and experience conform: The Yogī generally begins by observing the consciousness of touch, thinking etc., and acts of hearing, seeing etc., in short, contemplating on the nature of the five groups of grasping. As stated earlier, the Yogī constantly notes, at the Bhaṅga ñāṇa stage, the rapid dissolution of the nāma, rūpa phenomena and finds them to be dreadful, terrible. This leads him to regard them as baneful, disgusting. Then wishing to be free of them, he strives harder still till he reaches the stage of saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa when he views all things with equanimity. When this saṅkhārupakhā ñāṇa is fully perfected, there arise in him very fast moving and very distinct vutthamagāminī and anuloma ñāṇas, and the Yogī descends into a state of complete void and cessation of all objects of contemplation as well as acts of contemplation. This is the realization of Nibbāna by means of the Ariya Path and Fruition. Such realization elevates an ordinary common worldling into the state of a Sotāpana; a Sotāpana into that of a Sagadāgam; a Sagadāgam into that of an Anāgam and finally an Anāgam into an Arahat. The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta gives the following description of such transformations. (developments).
FROM DISTASTE, DISGUST TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF ARIYA PATH AND FRUITION
"Nibbindan virajjati viragā vimuccāti"
"Being wearied, he becomes passion free and the Ariya path is developed. In this freedom from passion and the Ariya path being developed, he is emancipated from Asava kilesā defilements."
The Yogī develops from the stage of sammasana to that of Bhaṅga by contemplating in the nature of anicca, dukkha, and anatta of phenomena. The Blessed One was referring to this development by the words 'Evam passam, -- Seeing thus' in the above text. The stage from Bhaṅga to saṅkhārupakkhā and anuloma was described as 'Nibbindati feeling wearied or disgusted.' Then comes, 'Nibbindan virajjatī, viraga vimuccati' 'when disgusted, get wearied, when wearied, become free from passion; when free from passion, become emancipated,' to describe the development of the knowledge of the Path and Fruition. A very concise description, perfectly matching with the practical experience of the Yogīs.
HOW THE EXPERIENCE AND DESCRIPTION MATCH
When saṅkhārupakkhā ñāṇa gets strengthened, extraordinary knowledge appears very rapidly. The Yogī whose development in feeling of disgust is not yet strong enough to abandon the nāma and rūpa is overtaken by anxiety, "What is going to happen? Am I about to die?" As anxiety appears, the concentration gets weakened. But when the feeling of disgust is intense, there is no occasion for anxiety to arises and the Yogī contemplates on effortlessly, smoothly. Soon he descends into the condition where there is freedom from passion and attachment and the complete cessation of all nāmas, rūpas, saṅkhāras. This is then emancipation from defilements, taints (āsavas) which should become free at this stage.
When descending without any attachment into where there is cessation, by means of the first Path (sotāpattimagga), the Yogī becomes liberated from defilements of false views (Diṭṭhi āsava); from ignorance which is associated with doubts and skepticism, and from gross form of sense-desires which may lead to the regions of Apāya. This is emancipation by virtue of Sotāpatti Fruition which is the resultant to the Sotāpatti Path.
When descending to where there is cessation by means of the second Path, Sagadāmimagga, there is freedom from the gross types of sense desires. When descending to where there is cessation by mans of third Path, the Anāgam magga, one becomes free from subtle types of sense-desires as well as from similarly fine types of ignorance. With arahattamagga ñāṇa, there is the liberation from all kinds and types of defilements. This is in accordance with the statement "virāga vimuccāti." When free from passions and descending to where there is cessation, there arises emancipation by virtue of Fruition which is the result of the Path. This emancipation is perceived vividly by process of reflection.
REFLECTION BY AN ARAHAT
The process of reflection by an Arahat is described in the concluding words of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta:
"Vimuttasmin vimuttanīti ñāṇam hoti 'khīnā jāti vusitam brahmacāriyam katam karaniyam nāparam ittatthāyā'ti pajānāti."
"When emancipated, the knowledge arise on reflection that freedom from defilements has been achieved. And he knows "Birth is exhausted; lived in 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 Arahat reflects back on his attainments. 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 nāma, rūpa aggregates and attachment to them taking them to be permanent, satisfactory, self and living entity, there will be renewal of becoming in the cycle of existence. When one become free of wrong views and illusions, he is free of attachment too. The Arahat knows on reflection he is free of view and illusion with regard to the aggregates and that he has no more attachments for them. Therefore, he perceives and concludes that birth is exhausted for him. This is reflecting on the defilements which have been discarded and exhausted.
Here the holy life means the practice of sīla, samādhī, and paññā. But keeping the precepts only, or developing the jhānic concentration only, will not achieve the purpose of attaining the highest goals. The purpose is achieved only by taking note of the phenomena of nāma and rūpa as it occurs until attainment of the Path and Fruition. Therefore, it must be taken to mean by 'the holy life is lived' meditation has been practised to reach the highest goal.
"What has to be done" means practicing meditation so as to comprehend fully and well the four Noble Truths. By practicing meditation until attainments of arahattamagga, this task is accomplished. Even after having seen personally the nature of cessation by means of the three lower maggas and having known the Truth of suffering which is the same as knowing the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta, certain illusions such as illusions of perception and illusion of mind consciousness still remain to be eradicated. Because of thus illusions, there is still delighting and craving believing them to be pleasurable and enjoyable. The origin of craving has not yet been abandoned. So even for the Anāgam there is still fresh becoming. At the stage of Arahattamagga, the Truth of suffering (nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta) is fully and well comprehended. All the illusions of perception and consciousness are eradicated. Since there is no more illusions, there is no misconceptions about delighting in enjoyable pleasure, no opportunity for samudaya tanhā to arise; it is completely eradicated, The task of knowing the Four Noble Truths is fully accomplished. That is why it is reflected that there is nothing more to be done.
In this account of reflection by an Arahat, there is no mention of reflection on the Path, Fruition, Nibbāna and the defilements directly and separately. But it should be taken that they are reflected on first, followed by reflection on others. Thus it should be taken that the reflection on 'Holy life is lived; what has to be done is done' came as continuation after the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna have been reflected on. "The mind is free; birth is exhausted" is reflected on, only after the reflection on the defilements which have been removed, eradicated. Accounts of reflection by the Sotāpam, the Sagadāgam and the Anāgam are given in our discourses on Sīlavanta.
"Being wearied he becomes passion free and Ariya Path arises. When there is freedom from the passion and the Path has arisen, he is emancipated from the bonds of defilements. With the emancipation comes the reflection that the mind has become free. And he knows 'Birth is exhausted; the holy life is lived; what has to be done is done; there is nothing more of this becoming."
The Venerable Theras who recited the Sutta at the Council had recorded the following terminal passage:
"Idamavoca Bhagavā attamanā pañcavaggiyā Bhikkhu Bhagavato bāsitam abhinandun. Imasmin ca pana veyā karanasmin bhaññamāne pañcavaggiyānam Bhikkhunam ānupādāya āsavehi cittāni vimuccim suti."
"Thus the Blessed One said,' (Rūpam Bhikkhave anatta -- P -- nāparam itattathāya ti pajānāti) to teach this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta to the group of five Bhikkhus so that they should attain Arahatship. Pleased, the group of five Bhikkhus were delighted with the exposition of the Blessed One. Moreover, as this exposition was being spoken (or just at the end of this discourse), the mind of the group of the five Bhikhus were free of attachments and become emancipated from defilements.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
Amongst the group of five Bhikkhus, the Venerable Kondañña became a Sotāpana on the first watch of the full moon of Wāso while listening to the discourse on Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. He must have continued on with the contemplation and meditation. But he had not attained Arahatship before he heard the discourse on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta. Venerable Vappa became Sotāpana on the first waning day of Wāso, the Venerable Bhaddiya on the second, the Venerable Mahānam on the third and the Venerable Assaji on the fourth waning day of Wāso respectively. All five of them Sotāpanas at the time, while listening to this discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, contemplated on the five aggregates as "This is not mine, This I am not, This is not my self;" just of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. They attained to the three higher stages of knowledge, step by step and became Arahats. According to the commentary to the Patisammbhidā, they gained Arahatship just at the end of the discourse by reflecting on the Teaching.
It was in the year 103 of the grate Era, Counting back from this year 1325 of M.E., it was 2552 years ago. That year, on the fifth waning day of Wāso after the discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta was ended, there had appeared six Arahats including the Blessed One in the human world. It arouses great devotional piety by visualizing this scene at the deer sanctuary near Vārānasi, how the Blessed One was teaching the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta and how the group of five Bhikkhus while giving respectful attention to the discourse attained to the Arahatship, the cessation of all defilements. Let us try to visualize this scene.
HOMAGE TO THE SIX ARAHATS
Two thousand five hundred and fifty two years ago, on the fifth waning day of Wāso, the Blessed One gave the discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta to the group of five Bhikkhus. Listening to the discourse and contemplating on the Teaching, all the five Bhikkhus became free from defilements and attained to Arahatship. We pay our reverential homage with raised hands, palms together to the all Enlightened One and the group of five Bhikkhus who had become the first Six Arahats, completely free from defilements, at the beginning of the Buddha's Dispensation.
We have been giving these discourses for twelve times during the past twelve weeks and covered the whole of the Sutta. We will now bring to a close this series of lectures on Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.
THE CONCLUDING PRAYER
May you all good people in the audience, by virtue of having given respectful attention to this discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, be able to contemplate as instructed in this Sutta on the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa; And noting them at each moment of manifestation of seeing, hearing etc., as 'This is not mine, This I am not, This is not myself;' and perceiving them with own knowledge, rightly and well as incessantly rising and perishing and, therefore, of the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta, be able to attain soon through the Path and Fruition, the Nibbāna., the end of all sufferings.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
End of the Eight Part of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta
This is the end of the whole Sutta On
The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta
U KO LAY (ZEYĀ MAUNG)