This discourse delivered by us beginning on the New Moon of Tawthalin with the introduction, which had taken most of our time. We could deal only with the opening lines of the Sutta. Today, we will pick up the thread from there.
"Bhikkhus, one who has gone forth from the worldly life should not indulge in these two extreme parts (things, practices)" - which will be presently explained.
And why shouldn't he indulge in these? Because the main purpose of one who has gone forth from the worldly life is to rid himself of such defilements as lust and anger. This objective could not be achieved by indulging in the two extreme things, for they will only tend to promote further accumulations of lust and anger.
What are the two extreme things (parts, practices)? Delighting in desirable sense-objects, pursuing and enjoying sensuous pleasures constitute one extreme practice. This practice is low, vulgar, being the habit of village and town folks, indulged in by ordinary common worldlings, not pursued by the Noble Ones, ignoble, unclean, not tending to the true interests one is seeking after. Such pursuit after sensuous pleasures is an extreme (part) practice which should be avoided.
There are five kinds of desirable sense-objects, namely: pleasurable sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. In brief, all the material objects, animate or inanimate, enjoyed by people in the world.
in a seemingly pleasurable sight and enjoying it constitute practice
and pursuit of sensuality. Here the sense object of sight means not
merely a source of light or colour that comes into contact with the
seeing eye, but the man or woman or the whole of the object that forms
the source or origin of that sight. Similarly, all sources of sound,
smell, and touch-whether man, woman or instrumental objects-constitute
sensuous objects. As regards taste, not only the various foods, fruits
and delicacies, but also men, women and people who prepare and serve
them are classified as objects of taste. Listening to a pleasant sound,
smelling a sweet fragrant smell are as sensuous as enjoyment of good,
delicious food, the luxury or a comfortable bed or physical contact
with the opposite sex.
It arouses ill-will towards those who are thought to be opposed to onself. Flushed with success and affluence, one becomes shameless and unscrupulous, bold and reckless in one's behaviour, no longer afraid to do evil. One begins to deceive oneself with false impression (moha) of well-being and prosperity. The new informed worldling (puthujana) may also come to hold the wrong view of living soul or atta to entertain disbelief in the resultant effects of one's own actions, Kamma. Such being the outcome of delighting in and relishing of sensuous pleasures, they are to be regarded as low and base.
Furthermore, indulgence in sensual pleasures is the habitual practice of lower forms of creatures such as animals, petas, etc. The Bhikkhus and Samanas, belonging to the higher stages of existences should not stoop low to vie with the lower forms of life in the vulgar practice of base sensuality.
Pursuit after sensuous pleasures does not lie within the province of one who has gone forth from the worldly life. It is the concern of the town and village folks who regard sensual pleasures as the highest attributes of bliss; the greater the pleasures, the greater the happiness. In ancient times, rulers and rich people engaged themselves in the pursuit of sensual pleasurers. Wars were waged, and violent conquests made, all for the gratification of sense-desire.
modern times too, similar conquests are still being made in some areas
for the same objectives. But it is not only the rulers and the rich
who seek sensual pleasures, the poor are also arduous in the pursuit
of worldly goods and pleasures. As a matter of fact, as soon as adolescence
is reached, the instinct for mating and sexual gratification makes
itself felt. For the worldly householder veiled from the Buddha Dhamma,
gratification of sense desires appears to be indeed the acme of happiness
addition, Bhikkhus renounce the world with a vow to work for release
from the sufferings inherent in the rounds of rebirth and for the
realization of Nibbăna. It is obvious that these noble ideals cannot
be attained by the Bhikkhus if they go after sensual pleasures in
the manner of householders. Thus, one who has gone forth from the
worldly life should not indulge in delightful sensuous pleasures.
Actually, however, such worldly success and prosperity do not amount to one's own well-being. One's true interest lies in seeking ways of overcoming old age, disease, and death and attaining release from all forms of suffering. The only way to escape from all forms of suffering is through development of morality (sila), mental concentration (samădhi) and Insight, wisdom (pańńă). Only these, namely, sila, samădhi, pańńă are to be sought in the true interest of oneself.
Pursuit of sensual pleasures cannot lead to the conquest of old age, disease, death or all forms of suffering. It only tends to breach morality codes, such as non-commitment of illegal sexual conduct. Seeking worldly amenities through killing, theft or deceit also amounts to violation of moral precepts. Not to speak of physical actions, the mere thought of enjoyment of sensual pleasures prohibits development of mental concentration and wisdom and thus forms a hindrance to the realization of Nibbăna, cessation of all sufferings.
Failure to observe moral precepts is a sure step to the four nether worlds of intense suffering. It is to be noted, however, that maintenance of moral character alone without simultaneous development of samădhi and pańńă will not lead to Nibbăna. It only encourages rebirth repeatedly in happier existences, where, however, manifold sufferings such as old age, disease and death are still encountered again and again.
Recluses and Bhikkhus, having renounced the world, with the avowed purpose of achieving Nibbăna, where all sufferings cease, should have nothing to do with pursuits of sensuous pleasures that only obstruct development of sila, samădhi and pańńă.
recapitulate, enjoyment of sensuous pleasures is low and vulgar, being
the pre-occupation of common people of low intelligence, unclean,
ignoble; and is not practised by the Noble Ones. It is detrimental
to progress in sila, samădhi and pańńă and thus works against
the true interest of those intent on achievement of the unaged, undeceased,
the deathless - Nibbăna.
"Sunda, in this world there are some foolish, ignorant people who promote their own enrichment by the slaughter of animals - cattle, pigs, chicken, fish. This practice constitutes the first form of indulgence in worldly enjoyment.
Theft, dacoity and robbery constitute the second form of indulgence in worldly enjoyment while deceitful means of earning one's livelihood constitute the third. The fourth form of indulgence embraces other means besides these three, by which worldly wealth is gained."
The Sutta stated that Buddha's disciples, Bhikkhus, were free from these indulgences. Lay people, in observing the eight precepts and ten precepts have to maintain chastity and abstain from partaking of food after midday, dancing and singing, all these being forms of sensuous pleasure.
one is engaged in meditation practices, one has to forego all kinds
of sensuous enjoyment just like the Bhikkhus who have gone forth from
the worldly life because they tend to hinder the development of sila,
samădhi and pańńă. A meditator, even if he is a layman, must
not, therefore, indulge in worldly enjoyment. This should suffice
regarding one form of extreme practice, namely, indulgence in worldly
which leads only to suffering was practised by those who held the
belief that luxurious living would cause attachment to sensual pleasures,
and that only austerity practices such as denying oneself sense-objects
such as food and clothing would remove the sense desires. Then only
the eternal peace, the state of the unaged, undiseased, the deathless
could be achieved. Such was the belief of those who practicised self-mortification.
They have no use for regular beds, lying on the naked ground for resting. Some of them resort to lying on prickly thorns covered only by a sheet of clothing. There are some who remain in a sitting posture for days while others keep standing only, neither lying nor sitting down. A form of self-infliction is to lie hanging down, suspended from a tree branch by two legs; to stand straight on one's head in a topsy-turvy posture is yet another.
Whereas it is the normal habit of good Bhikkhus to assuage hunger by partaking of food, some self-tormentors completely cut off food and water. There are some who eat on alternate days only while others eat once in two days, three days, etc. Some practitioners abstain from food for 4 days, 5 days, 6 days, 7 days; some even for 15 days on end. Some reduce their meal to just one handful of food while others live on nothing but green vegetables and grass or on cow excrement.
(In Lomahaősa Sutta, Ekanipăta Commentary, it is stated that the Bodhisatta himself followed these practices in one of his existences, 91 world-cycles, ago. He realized his mistakes when he saw signs of future miserable life as death approached. By abandoning the wrong practices, he managed to attain the deva world.)
All such self-imposed penances constitute self-mortification (attakilamathănuyoga). These practices were followed by Niganda Nătaputta sects long before the time of the Buddha.
present day Jains are the descendants of the Niganda Nătaputta. Their
practice of self-mortification was commonly acclaimed and well-thought
of by the multitude in those days. Hence, when the Bodhisatta gave
up austerity practices and resumed partaking of normal meals, his
intimate colleagues, the group of five Bhikkhus forsook him, misjudging
that the Bodhisatta had given up the right practice, right exertion
(padhănavibbhanta) and that he would not attain Enlightenment.
1. Restraint (samvara) - This method consists restraining sense-objects such as sight, sound, smell, taste, touch from entering their body as it is their belief that they will conjoin with the atman (atta) to produce fresh kamma, which will in turn form new life (existence).
2. Annihilation of results of past kamma through torturous penance (nijjara) - Their belief is that results of past misdeeds (akusala kamma) are expiated and redemption obtained by submitting oneself to self-mortification.
The Buddha asked of the naked ascetics who were practising self-mortification, "You state that you go through physical sufferings to exhaust the results of akusala kamma of past existences, but do you know for certain that you had indeed committed unvirtuous acts in previous existences?" Their reply was in the negative. The Buddha further questioned them whether they knew how much akusala kamma they had done previously; how much of it they had expiated through self-mortification, and how much of it remained. The replies were all in the negative - they did not know.
Then the Buddha explained to them that in order to give them the seed of intellectual advancement, it was fruitless to practise torturous penance, not knowing if there were any past misdeeds orknow how much they had expiated.
The Buddha stated further that those who were trying to absolve themselves from their past misdeeds through self-torture may truly have committed large amounts of akusala deeds.
Bodhisatta previously adopted extreme measures of practice not with
a view to expiate his past misdeeds, if any, but thinking that they
would lead to higher knowledge. However, after five years of strenuous
efforts, as stated above, and realizing that extreme practice would
not lead to knowledge or insight and wondering whether there was another
way that would lead to his cherished goal, he abandoned the practice
Buddha described the method simply as painful, unclean and ignoble,
not being followed by the Noble Persons.
Before the appearance of the supremely Enlightened Buddha, it was widely held throughout India, the Middle Country, that self-mortification was a noble, holy practice (training) which truly led to liberation (from evil effects of bad kamma). The group of five Bhikkhus also held that view.
However, the Buddha said that the extreme practice, being unclean and ignoble, produced only suffering and was not indulged in by Noble Persons. It did not pertain to the interests one was seeking. The Buddha, therefore, clearly advised those who had gone forth from the worldly life to avoid them (not to indulge in them).
A definite pronouncement regarding unworthiness of extreme practice was necessary at that stage because not only was it universally held that 'only self-mortification would lead to higher knowledge', the group of five Bhikkhus also accepted this belief. As long as they held fast to this view, they would not be receptive to the doctrine of the Noble Eightfold Path. Hence, the open denunciation by the Buddha that self-mortification was profitless leading only to physical suffering.
The first extreme portion (practice) gives free rein to mind and body and is, therefore, to be regarded as too lax or yielding. A (free) mind not controlled by meditation (concentration or insight) is liable to sink low into pursuits of sensuous pleasures. It is learnt that some teachers are teaching the practice of relaxing the mind, giving it a free rein, but the mind is such that it requires constant guard over it. Even when constantly controlled by meditations, the mind wanders forth to objects of sensual pleasures. It is, therefore, obvious that left by itself, unguarded by meditation, the mind will surely engage itself in thoughts of sensual pleasures.
second extreme portion or practice inflicts suffering on oneself through
denial of normal requirements of food and clothing. It is too rigid,
unbending, depriving oneself of ordinary comfort and is thus to be
'Let only skin, sinew and bone remain. Let the flesh and blood dry up. I will exert incessantly until I achieve the Path and Fruition I work for.' "Such must be the resolute firmness of determination with which the goal is to be pursued", the Buddha counselled.
Thus, strenuous, relentless efforts in meditation practices for achievement of concentration and Insight should not be misconstrued as a form of self-torture. Leaving aside meditation practices, even keeping of precepts which entails some physical discomfort is not to be regarded as a practice of self-mortification. Young people and young novices suffer from pangs of hunger in the evenings while keeping the eight precepts, but as fasting is done in fulfilment of the precepts, it does not amount to self-mortification.
For some people, the precept of abstaining from taking life is a sacrifice on their part; they suffer certain disadvantages as a consequence. But as it constitutes the good deed of keeping the precept, it is not to be viewed as a form of self-mortification. In the Mahădhamma Samădăna Sutta of Mula Pannăsă, the Buddha explained that such acts of sacrifice at the present time is bound to produce beneficial results in the future. The Buddha said: "In this world, some people abstain from taking life, causing some physical and mental sufferings to themselves. They take up the right view (of not killing) for which they have to suffer physically and mentally. These people thus voluntarily go through suffering to keep the precepts at the present time. After passing away, they will attain the higher abodes of the devas. These ten meritorious deeds are known as good practices which produce beneficial results in after life through suffering in the present.
any practice which promotes sila, samădhi and pańńă is not
profitless, not self-mortification which is to be indulged in, but
beneficial and is in line with the Middle Path which should certainly
be followed. It should be definitely noted that a practice which does
not develop sila, samădhi and pańńă but results merely in
physical suffering constitutes self-mortification.
Buddha had definitely stated in the Mahă Satiptthăna Sutta that pleasant
feeling, painful feeling as well as equanimity are all objects for
contemplation. The same statement was repeated in many other Suttas.
Thus, it should be definitely noted that any object which falls under
the category of Five Groups of Grasping is a legitimate object for
This statement is made apparently taking into consideration the welfare of the meditator. Nevertheless, it must be said that it is unsound and ill-advised. In the practice of concentration or Insight Meditation, patience or self-control (khanti samvara) plays an important role - it is an important factor for the successful practice of concentration or Insight Meditation. One-pointedness of mind can be achieved only through patiently bearing some bodily discomforts. It is within the experience of anyone who has practised meditation in earnest that continual changing of posture is not conducive to development of concentration. Therefore, unpleasant physical discomfort has to be borne with patience. The self-control practised thus is not self-mortification inasmuch as the goal being not mere suffering, but for promotion of sila, samădhi and pańńă in accordance with the wishes of the Buddha.
The Blessed One desired, if possible, an even more relentless effort to achieve the Noblest Fruit of Arahatship by one continuous sitting, uninterrupted by change of posture. In the Mahă Gosinga Sutta of Mula Pannăsa, the Blessed One stated: "A Bhikkhu meditates after making a firm resolution 'Unclinging, I will remain seated, without changing the crossed-legged position until the ăsavas (taints) have been removed'. Such a Bhikkhu is an adornment to the Gosinga monastery in the forest of Ingyin trees, a valuable asset to the forest abode."
Thus, to state that patient contemplation of painful feelings is a form of self-torture is to denounce those yogis who are following the instruction of the Buddha. It also amounts to rejection of the Buddha's words and discourages the effort of yogis who could achieve concentration and insight only through patient bearing of pain brought about by shiftless posture.
Note: Bhikkhus, in this teaching, a Bhikkhu after well consideration, patiently puts up with cold, heat, hunger, thirst, attack by insects and reptiles, effects of wind and sun, accusation and abuses, painful discomfort which arises, painful suffering which is violent, sharp, unbearable, unpleasant, hateful, fearful, (which may endanger his life even). Beneficial result of such patient toleration of heat, cold, hunger, thirst, attacks of insects, insults, physical discomfort, is non-appearance of taints, impurities, suffering and burning which would surely make their appearance if not borne with patience.
It should be noted seriously that the Blessed One advised in this Sabbhasava Sutta to bear with pain or suffering which is severe enough to cost even one's life. In the Commentary to the Sutta, it is mentioned that the Elder Lomasa Naga persisted in his meditation practice even when enveloped by snowflakes while sitting in the open, round about the full moon of January/February. He overcame the cold surrounding him, without giving up his meditation posture simply by contemplation of the intense cold of the Lokantarika region of the Purgatories. Such example of forbearance while engaged in meditation are abound in numerous stories mentioned in the Suttas.
Thus, comparatively mild forms of pain such as stiffness of limbs, heat sensation, etc. should be borne with patience, without changing the original meditation posture. If possible, persistence should be maintained even at the risk of one's life as it will promote self-control (khanti samvara), concentration and insight.
If, however, discomforting pains and sensations reach unbearable magnitude, the body position may be changed, but very slowly and gently so as not to disturb mindfulness, concentration and insight.
Thus, practices which are not concerned with promotion of sila, samădhi and pańńă, but are taken only for mere suffering are definite forms of self-torture. On the other hand, arduous efforts, however painful and distressing, if made for the development of sila, samădhi and pańńă, do not constitute self-mortification. It must be definitely taken as the Middle Path or the Noble Eightfold Path put forward by the Blessed One.
The Blessed One himself, after avoiding the two extreme practices, namely, the indulgence in sensual pleasures, which is too lax and self-mortification, which is too rigid, had by following the Middle Path reached Buddhahood and gained Enlightenment.
The Middle Path - the practice and the benefit:
The Blessed One continued: "Bhikkhus, avoiding these two extreme practices, the Tathăgata (the Master) has gained the penetrative knowledge of the Middle Path which produces vision and foremost knowledge and tends to calm, to higher knowledge, penetrative insight and realization of Nibbăna."
With these words, the Blessed One let the group of Five Bhikkhus know that after giving up the two extreme practices, he had found the Middle Path by means of which he had personally gained vision, knowledge, tranquillity, etc.
For a full thirteen years from the age of sixteen to the age of twenty-nine, he had indulged in sensuous pleasures, the path of extreme laxity. At the age of twenty-nine, he had given up the lax way of living by going forth from the worldly life. Then for six years he had practised extreme austerity through self-mortification. After six years of rigorous training, he had not gained any higher knowledge; he had not benefited in any way from the training and he realized that he had pursued the wrong path.
Accordingly, he gave up the austerity practices and resumed partaking of normal meals in order to fortify his physical strength to work for jhănic attainments through breathing exercises. The resumption of meals was a well-considered action taken purposely to enable him to engage in meditation exercise on breathing, which is part of the Middle Path. As the food was taken in moderation in a mindful manner, it should not be regarded as enjoyment of sensory pleasure. Nor was it self-mortification, there being no suffering through denial of food. Thus, it was definitely the Middle Way, unrelated to the two extreme practices.
On regaining physical strength through partaking of normal meals, the Blessed One worked for and won the four jhănic attainments. These jhănic concentrations are precursories to the Path of the Ariyas (pubba bhăga magga), or foundation for Insight Meditation and thus constitute Right Concentration, one of the steps of the Middle Path or the Noble Eightfold Path. Based on this foundation of Right Concentration, the Blessed One, with his fully concentrated mind, developed Insight and Right Understanding. In this way, he found out personally the four Noble Magga or the Noble Eightfold Path - not through rigorous abstention from material food not through enjoyment of sensual pleasures (kămasukhallika), but by following the Middle Course. Therefore, he stated: "Bhikkhus, avoiding these two extreme practices (portions), the Tathăgata had gained the penetrating knowledge of the Middle Path." By this he meant that he had gained the knowledge of the Middle Path, which is neither too lax nor too rigorous, by abandoning the two wrong practices, namely, kămasukhallika, which is too lax and attakilamatha, which is too austere.
TO AVOID THE TWO EXTREMES
material goods such as food, clothing, medicine and shelter (dwelling
place) should be used, accompanied either by reflective contemplation
or practice of concentration or insight meditation. Everytime contact
is made with five sense objects, they should be noted as objects of
insight meditation. By adopting a reflective mood or noting these
sense objects as objects of insight meditation, partaking of necessary
food, clothes, etc. does not develop into enjoying them with delight
or pleasure, thereby avoiding the other extreme of indulgence in sensuous
pleasures. Therefore, the Blessed One declared: "Having avoided
these two extreme practices (parts), I have come to understand the
Similarly, by contemplating on the material goods we have utilized or noting them as objects of meditation, we have prevented the partaking of them from developing into sensuous enjoyment of them.
For the yogi who notes everything he sees, hears, contacts, cognizes, and understands the nature of impermanence, suffering and insubstantiality in every phenomenon that arises and vanishes, greed (lobha) and hatred (dosa) concerning objects he sees, hears, etc. cannot develop in him. Every time he partakes of the four essential material goods, namely, food, clothing, medicines and shelter, and if he keeps on noting his feelings, no defilements can develop in connection with these material objects.
Thus, he can make use of essential material goods for comfortable living, and at the same time avoid the development of delight and pleasure in them through the practice of reflective contemplation and Insight Meditation. In this manner, the two extremes are avoided. Practising reflective contemplation and insight meditation at the time of partaking of food, etc., amounts to the practice of the Middle Path.
this practice of the Middle Path, which keeps noting every object
that appears at the six sense doors, thereby knowing their true nature,
vision will arise, the eye of wisdom will open up, leading to the
realization of Nibbăna. Such are the benefits that accrue from following
the Middle Path. The Buddha continued to explain: "The Middle
Path, understood penetratingly by the Tathăgata, produces vision,
and knowledge cannot arise through indulgence in sensuous pleasure
nor through self-torture. They appear only by following the Eightfold
Path. Development of vision and knowledge is very important. In the
teaching of the Buddha, meditation is practised for the purpose of
developing the Eightfold Path.
After the lapse of a few days, the mind becomes tranquilized and his power of concentration grows. The mind practically stops wandering forth to other sensual objects. It remains rivetted on the chosen object of meditation, namely rupa and năma, as they arise. At that time, the distinction between rupa (the object of awareness) and năma (the mental quality that takes note of it) becomes very pronounced.
At the start of the meditation exercise, the yogi can hardly distinguish between the physical phenomenon of rising and falling of abdomen and the mental act of noting the phenomenon. He remains under the impression that these separate phenomena are one and the same. As the power of concentration increases, rupa (the object of awareness) becomes automatically differentiated with every note-taking from năma that takes note of it. They appear separately, unmixed.
The knowledge arises then that this body is made up of only the rupa and năma. There is no live entity in it, only the two elements of material object and the knowing mind existing together. This knowledge appears not through imagination, but as if it is presented on the palm of the hand; hence, it is described also as vision, i.e. as if seen by the eyes.
As samădhi (the power of concentration) increases, understanding arises - there is seeing because there is eye and sight (object) to be seen; there is hearing because there is ear and sound; bending because of the desire to bend; stretching because of the desire to stretch; movement because of the desire to move; there is liking because of ignorance about the reality (not knowing what reality is); there is craving, attachment because of liking; and craving motivates action which in turn gives rise to beneficial or baneful results.
Then, as samădhi continues to grow, it is vividly seen that the object of awareness and the act of noting it arise and vanish, arise and vanish as if under one's own eyes. Thus, the yogi will come to know very clearly himself that nothing is permanent, everything is unsatisfactory, suffering, and that there is only ungovernable, uncontrollable phenomena without any individual or ego entity.
When he has fully developed this anicca, dukkha, anatta năma, knowledge about impermanent, suffering, insubstantial nature of things, he will realize Nibbăna, the cessation of all sankhăras of rupa and năma, all suffering, through the knowledge of the Ariyăpatha - the ariya magga ńăna, which constitutes the higher vision, higher knowledge.
Thus, the yogi who keeps note constantly of the rupa and năma as they arise in accordance with the Satipatthăna Sutta, becomes personally convinced that the Eightfold Path produces vision and knowledge as stated in the discourse.
is clear that such direct personal experience of truth (about anicca,
dukkha, anatta) which constitutes higher knowledge, cannot be
gained just by learning the Abhidhamma texts and pondering over its
contents. No higher knowledge will arise by mere reflection on the
text. In time, when reflective contemplation is neglected, even the
texts will go out of memory because it is only superficial knowledge
gained through exercise of intellect, not through personal realization.
later Ŕnandă reported this account to the Blessed One, the Blessed
One said, "Truly so, Ŕnandă, if any Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni dwelt
in the practice of the four Satipatthăna, it could be definitely believed
that they would come to know more deeply and more of the Noble Truths
than they had before.
Similarly, knowledge about all the material elements (rupa) is followed by the contemplation and discernment of Mental Elements (năma). Likewise, knowledge about rupa and năma is followed by discernment about their cause.
Knowledge about the cause, which gives rise to rupa and năma is followed by discernment of the three characteristics of their impermanence, suffering and insubstantiality.
Thus, the knowledge which arises first leads on to the Noble super-knowledge later on. In the practice of kăyănupassană, according to the Sotăpanna Sutta, one begins with noting material forms while in the process of going, standing, sitting, lying, bending, stretching, moving, etc. This amounts to taking note of the characteristics of the wind element (văyo) - namely, its quality of pushing, stretching and moving, etc.
after thoroughly understanding the nature of the great elements, can
one discern the workings of the derived elements such as eyes, sight,
ear, sound, by noting seeing, hearing, etc. Having mastered the nature
of all the material forms, attention is next given to the arising
of mind and mental formations. In this way, superior knowledge appears
step by step in consequential order.
Some say that it is a slow process to begin with the knowledge of differentiation between năma and rupa (năma-rupa pariccheda ńăna). It would be much quicker to begin with the awareness of constant arising and vanishing of năma and rupa (udayabbhaya ńăna) and bhanga năna. They even say they prefer the quicker method.
But studying năma and rupa and their definitions and descriptions from the texts and beginning to contemplate on them, starting from wherever one desires, will not give rise to true vipassană Insight. Consequently, the arising of a later knowledge superior to the precedent one in accordance with the Teaching cannot be experienced this way. Just as a student increases the retentive power of the text he has learnt by rote by repetitive recitation, so also such practice will help only to remember the definitions and descriptions of năma and rupa. No extraordinary insight will result from such practice.
It has come to our knowledge that at a well-known meditation centre, attempts were made to go through the whole series of various stages of knowledge development just by following the stages step by step as they have learnt from the texts. After reaching the stage of sankharupekkha-ńăna (knowledge acquired by reflecting upon the formations of existence) difficulty was encountered when they come to anuloma and gotrabhu magga phăla-ńăna stages. So they had to go back right to the beginning. This is an instance to show that vipassană Insight cannot be realized through short cuts.
practising meditation in accordance with the Satipatthăna Sutta and
developing the Middle Path or Eightfold Path, one is bound to experience
deeper superior knowledge after each precedent knowledge as stated
in the Dhammacakka sutta: Vision arose, knowledge arose.
Indulgence in sensuous pleasures does not at all lead to the cessation of kilesăs. Rather, it helps to develop more and more of them. Once it is given in to the temptation for enjoyment of sensuous pleasures, craving for repeated gratification results. Coming into possession of one sense-object leads to desire to possess more and more. One craving develops more and more craving. There is no end to it.
have only to take the example of the rich people of the developed
countries. They have everything they need. Yet they are never satisfied.
There is no end to their desires. It is quite obvious, therefore,
that practice of sensuous indulgence does not promote cessation of
kilesăs. It only causes their multiplication.
after coming out of the practice of self-mortification, or stopping
the practice for some time, when vitality returns, kilesăs
also return as before. Even while self-mortification is being practised,
although gross kilesăs remain suppressed, fine, subtle kilesăs continue
to arise. There will arise desires for comfortable living, free from
discomfort and pain of the practice. There is bound to arise too kilesăs
of the wrong view of self - 'I am doing the practice', the wrong view
of conceit - 'No one can do such practice' and the wrong belief in
practice - 'that it will lead to liberation'.
Everything that appears at the six doors of senses constitute the five Group of Grasping, namely, rupa and năma, the Truth of Suffering. Meditating on rupa and năma is practising the Path by which the Four Noble Truths will be understood. Believing in and practising any other method which keeps aside the magga Path and which does not lead to understanding the Four Noble Truths, is wrong belief in the practice (silabbata parămăsa ditthi).
There are people who are preaching that "It is not necessary to practise meditation nor to observe the precepts (sila). It is sufficient to listen to sermons and learn by heart the nature of rupa and năma." It will be necessary to consider whether such views amount to silabbata parămăsa. In our opinion, such preachments amount to teaching wrong view in practice as this method excludes the three disciplines of sila, samădhi and vipassană insight.
sotăpanna, being well-established in the knowledge of the
right vipassană practice, is not liable to hold the wrong view of
silabbata parămăsas. In future existences, there is no danger
for him to fall into this wrong belief. This is calming the kilesă
by virtue of the Noble Path.
This is how kilesă, lying dormant in the sense object (ărammanănusaya) which would have risen if not noted, is removed by means of a fraction of vipassană insight. Wise people should ponder well over this illustration given in the Visuddhi Magga.
If, as some people hold, contemplating the knowledge acquired by mere learning (suta-maya-ńăna) leads to vipassană, the question arises which kilesă lying dormant in which sense objects is eradicated by that vipassană insight. It would be difficult to answer that question in the absence of a definite object of awareness.
For the yogi who, following the Satipatthăna method, observes the rupa and năma in the process of their formation, there are definite objects of awareness to take note of. At the same time, there are also objects of awareness that escape his notice. Thus, he can eradicate the kilesăs lying dormant in the objects he has noted, while those lying dormant in the objects he has failed to note remains uneradicated. The answer is very simple for him.
After eradicating temporarily the kilesăs lying dormant in the objects noted by him, there remain in the yogi latent kilesăs which are removed only by the ariyă magga. Thus the first stream-winner (sotăpanna) has reached the stage where he has eradicated personality-belief (sakkăya ditthi), perplexity (vicikicchă) and wrong view in practice (silabbata) and all defilements which are liable to cause rebirth in regions of purgatory. In the sagadagămi, all the coarse forms of lust and ill-will are eradicated. The anagami becomes free from finer forms of lust and ill-will while the arahat is fully liberated from all forms of defilements.
this way, vipassană magga and ariya magga are capable
of either putting away kilesăs temporarily or uprooting them
out permanently. The Blessed One was having this fact in mind when
he said that the Middle Path leads to calm, tranquillity (upasamăya
Năma and rupa or the truth of suffering is seen as impermanent, as suffering or non-self. Every time they are seen thus, there is no chance for craving and clinging to make their appearance. Thus, there is liberation from craving and clinging. It is called pahănabhisamăya, knowing samudăya by abandonment though not by realization.
Every time rupa and năma become subjected to his awareness, the meditator is free from ignorance, avijjă, that could lead him to the wrong path. Being thus free from avijjă, he is free from ills of sankhăra and vińńăna. This is temporary cessation of ills, tadanga nirodha saccă. This temporary cessation of ills is realized by vipassană at every instance of noting, but not as its object of contemplation.
Every act of awareness develops vipassană magga, headed by sammăditthi. This is called bhăvanabhisamaya, knowing vipassană magga sacca by developing it in oneself. This knowledge is achieved, though not by contemplating at the moment of noting, but having it developed in oneself, it could be clearly perceived through reflection. Knowing the Truth of Suffering through noting the phenomenon of năma and rupa leads simultaneously to the knowledge of the three remaining truths, also. This is knowing the four truths by means of special vipassană năma. Hence, the Middle Path is said to produce super knowledge of the truths, abhińńă.
more, it also causes arising of special ariya magga ńăna.
As vipassană ńăna attains full maturity, Nibbăna is realized
and ariya maggas developed. Then the four truths become known
as they should be known by means of ariya magga ńăna. For
this reason too, the Middle Path is said to give rise to abhińńă.
is quite obvious that kămasukhallika and attakilamatha
practices can never give rise to super-knowledge nor penetrative insight
(abhińńă nor sambodha).
By developing the Eightfold Noble Path, penetration of the Four Noble Truths will be attained by means of ariya magga; finally Nibbăna will be realized through the Arahattaphala. Having thus realized Nibbăna, the last conscious moment of Parinibbăna will not lead to new existence for new forms of mind and matter. It is the cessation of all suffering. In this way, the Eightfold Path leads to realization of Nibbăna, cessation of all sufferings.
Benefits that will accrue from following the Middle Path has been exhaustively expounded. They represent the highest goal aimed at by persons working for liberation from the sufferings of the rounds of existence. There is nothing more that they should need.
It now remains only to know what constitutes the Middle Path. In order to explain the Path, the Blessed One started with a question in accordance with the traditional usages of those times.
The answer was supplied by the Blessed One Himself:
These constitute the Eightfold Path, the Middle Path, which when fully understood by the Tathăgata produces visions, produces knowledge and leads to calm; super-knowledge, penetrative insight, Nibbăna.
The definition of the Middle Path has now been given. Elaborate exposition of this Eightfold Path will have to wait till next week.
By virtue of having given respectful attention to this great Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, may you all good people present in this audience be able to avoid the wrong path, namely, the two extremes and follow the Noble Eightfold Middle Path, thereby gaining vision and higher knowledge which will lead to the realization of Nibbăna, the end of all suffering.