is the Full Moon day of Thadingyut, 1324 B.E. Buddhist monks have observed
Vassa (the rains retreat) for three months since the first day after
the Full Moon of Wăso. Today is the last day of the three months retreat.
During the Vassa period of three months, monks are enjoined not to make
overnight journeys except for special reasons approved by the Buddha.
They can leave their residence up to seven days for such special reasons.
At the termination of tonight, starting from early dawn of tomorrow,
the Vassa period of three months comes to an end. Monks can, henceforth,
move about freely for overnight journeys.
Accordingly, monks who have business to attend to elsewhere are leaving the residence tomorrow. On the eve of their departure, that is this evening, they have to perform the Pavărană service. It is a ceremony in which a monk invites (requests) criticism from his brethren in respect of what has been seen, heard or suspected about his conduct. There may be lapses or faults which one may not be aware of oneself but are noticed by others. If any fault or error has been committed unwittingly, the other monks of the assembly can point it out now and suitable corrective measures can thus be taken. Making necessary amends in consequence of criticisms constitutes observance of discipline leading to purification of conduct or sila (sila visuddhi). Only when purification of sila is assured, one starts practising meditation for the attainment of purification of mind (citta visuddhi) and purification of view (ditthi visuddhi).
This practice of inviting criticisms (Pavărană) is highly conducive to maintenance of purity in the Buddha's Dispensations (Buddha Săsană) and to high spiritual attainments such jhăna and magga phala. It is for this reason that the Buddha had laid down this code of disciple, requiring formal invitation to the Sangha for criticism when there are five Bhikkhus in residence on the Full Moon day of Thadingyut, or to one another if there are less than five Bhikkhus. This is a code of Discipline which a Bhikkhu of good faith should pay great heed to and in conformity with it should earnestly invite criticism concerning one's conduct and behaviour. If any criticism is forthcoming, it should be warmly welcomed in the spirit in which it is given and necessary atonements should be made accordingly.
It is just like being pointed out a smudge or stain on one's face by a friend when one is about to leave for a social function or a public gathering. The friendly intimation is received with appreciation and the smudge on the face is removed in time to avoid derision and snigger in public. One is thankful to the friend for having the kindness to point out the stain on one's face. Likewise, the Bhikkhu should welcome with gratitude any fault of his being pointed out by the brethren and attend to its removal. This practice is essential for maintenance of purity in the Buddha's Teaching. Not just following the tradition as a mere formality but with truly sincere wish to eradicate one's own fault and short-comings, the Bhikkhu should invite criticisms from his brethrens and welcome them. At the same time, he should in turn offer criticisms to other Bhikkhus if he happens to see any faults in them. By thus pointing out each other's faults and making sincere efforts to remove them, the holy life can be maintained in a state of faultless purity. That was the reason behind the Buddha's laying down of this code of discipline for the Bhikkhus.
Today, fifty Bhikkhus
who have resided together during the Vassa period have assembled in
the hall to make formal requests to the Sangha for criticism. Each
Sangha member has participated in this Pavărană service which has
taken nearly an hour. We have come here straight from the Sangha Assembly
to continue with the Discourse held last week.
Path can be summarised under three groups, namely, sila, samădhi
and pańńă. Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood form
the sila group or magga. By practising Right Speech,
Right Action and Right Livelihood, sila magga is established.
Samădhi magga is made up of Right Effort, Right Mindfulness
and Right Concentration. By practising them, samădhi magga
is established. Right View and Right Thoughts belong to pańńă
magga. Developing Right View and Right Thoughts leads one to
vipassană pańńă (Knowledge of Insight), magga pańńă
and phala pańńă (Knowledge pertaining to Transcendental Path
and Fruition), that is, wisdom pertaining to both mundane and supra-mundane
levels. We shall describe each of these maggas in detail,
emphasising the practical aspects.
In this definition given by the Buddha, abstinence or avoidance constitutes Right Speech. Thus, it should be noted that, even when an occasion arises for one to utter false speech, slander, abuse or useless chatter, if one restrains oneself from doing so, one is then establishing the practice of Right Speech. In reality, Right Speech is sammăvăcă virati, one of the fifty-two kinds of cetasika (mental concomitants), a member of the class of Abstinences. However, when one refrains from false speech, etc., one will be engaged only in talks which are truthful, gentle and beneficial, promoting harmony. The essential point here is that abstinence from false speech, etc., amounts to doing good deeds of observing the silas. One who takes the vow of refraining from false speech in observance of the five, eight or ten precepts has to refrain at the same time from the three evil vocal acts of slandering, abusing and idle talks, too.
In addition, whenever one sees, hears, smells, touches or thinks, if one realizes by contemplation the real nature of impermanence, suffering and insubstantiality concerning these sense-objects, no defilement which would cause utterance of wrong speech can arise. This amounts to temporary putting away anusaya kilesă (latent defilements), including wrong speech, by means of Vipassană.
As the knowledge of Insight, Vipassană-ńăna, gets fully developed, Nibbăna is realized through ariya magga ńăňa, knowledge pertaining to Noble Transcendental Path. When that happens, wrong speech will have been completely put away by virtue of sammăvăcă virati of the Transcendental Path. Visuddhi Magga Commentary, therefore, states that Sotăpatti Magga, the First Path, dispels false speech; Anăgămi Magga, the Third Path, dispels slandering and abusive language. Here, 'by speech or language' means volition (although it is possible to utter harsh language unaccompanied by volition). Arahatta magga, the Fourth Path, dispels frivolous talks or useless chatter. (It should be understood here, however, that all kinds of lying, slandering and abusive language, which would have caused rebirths in realms of misery (apăyagamaniya pisu, pharu, sampha) have already been got rid of by the First Path.) The Path of right speech (sammăvăcă magga) has, therefore, to be followed until all the Four Transcendental Paths have been completely established. To summarise:
a. To utter
false speech, slander, abuse and useless chatter is indulgence in
An explanation is needed here as to what constitutes unlawful sexual intercourse. There are twenty kinds of females with whom no male person should have sexual intercourse. Any male who has sexual intercourse with such persons as are under the protection of father, mother, brothers, sisters, relatives, clan elders, colleagues in meditation or a married woman or a betrothed girl, commits the evil deed of sexual misconduct. A married woman or a betrothed girl, having sexual relations with another man, also commits this evil deed. Avoidance of such evil deeds is Right Action. To summarise:
stealing and sexual misconduct are wrong actions.
The Path of Right
Action should be developed by observance of the moral precepts. It
should be developed too by practising Vipassană until the four ariya
maggas (Transcendental Paths) have been completely established.
"What, Bhikkhus, is Right Livelihood? In this Teaching, the noble disciple avoids a wrong way of living, gets his livelihood by a right way of living. This is called Right Livelihood."
Wrong livelihood is earning one's living through unlawful, unwholesome means such as killing and stealing. The three evil acts by deeds and four evil acts by words amount only to wrong action (micchă kammanta) and wrong speech (micchă văcă) when they have no connection with earning one's livelihood. They do not form wrong livelihood. Thus, for instance, killing flies, mosquitoes, insects, snakes or an enemy through anger or hatred amounts to an evil act of deeds, a wrong action, but not wrong livelihood. Killing animals such as poultry, pigs, goats or fish for the market or for one's own table definitely constitutes wrong livelihood.
In general, stealing and robbery are motivated by economic reasons. These will, therefore, be classed as wrong livelihood. When, however, the reason is not economic but revenge or habit, these deeds constitute merely wrong action. Illicit sexual intercourse usually has nothing to do with earning a livelihood, but seduction of women and ruining them purposely for employment in carnal trade are, of course, wrong livelihood.
Lying is just
wrong speech when not motivated by economic reason. However, when
falsehood is employed in commercial transactions or in law courts
to promote business, it amounts to wrong livelihood. Similarly, slandering,
devoid of economic interest, is wrong speech, but nowadays false charges
or denunciatory remarks are common methods employed to bring discredit
to the rival party and as they are mostly concerned with business,
they may be regarded as wrong livelihood. Harsh speech or abusive
language is rarely employed in business transactions and is, therefore,
usually just wrong speech. Modern novels, fictions, stories, plays
and dramas, cinemas, may be regarded mostly as means of wrong livelihood.
Such wrong ways of earning livelihood (by means of killing, stealing
and lying) are deeds which are bereft of moral principles maintained
by upright people.
These three factors
- Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood - belong to the
sila group of the Eightfold Noble Path. We shall now proceed
to discuss the constituents of the samădhi group.
1. Effort to prevent unarisen unwholesome things from arising. Whenever one notices, hears or sees evil acts of killing, stealing, lying being done by others, one must strive hard to put oneself above these unwholesome acts. It is just like trying to safeguard oneself against contagious diseases such as influenza, etc., in time of epidemic.
2. Effort to dispel, to overcome the evil, unwholesome things that have already arisen. These unwholesome things are of two kinds:
Of these two kinds, vitakkama akusala is dispelled or put away by sila training. Meticulous observance of sila automatically puts away the evil deeds and words arising out of vitakkama akusala. Evil thoughts of lusts and desires belonging to pariyutthăna akusala are dispelled by samatha vipassană (concentration and insight meditation).
Anusaya akusala may be momentarily put away by Vipassană (insight meditation). Anusaya defilements can be entirely got rid off, rooted out, only when ariya magga ńăna (knowledge pertaining to the Noble Path) is attained. It is with this view of completely uprooting this anusaya defilement that Vipassană meditation should be practised. This point is subtle and deep and can be fully grasped only by those who have practised Vipassană meditation effectively and adequately.
3. Efforts to bring out wholesome things which have not yet arisen. Dăna (alms giving), sila (observance of precepts), samatha bhavana (practice of concentration meditation), vipassană bhăvană (practice of insight meditation) are all different forms of meritorious deeds. One should make one's best effort to perform any of these meritorious deeds which one has not fulfilled as yet.
Some persons are distorting the true teaching of the Buddha by stating that meritorious deeds will result in prolonging the samsăra (the rounds of existences). According to them, kusala (meritorious deed) is sankhăra (volition action) that is conditioned by avijjă (ignorance). In accordance with the doctrine of paticca-samuppăda (law of dependent origination) which says 'saďkhăra paccayă vińńănă' (conditioned by sankhăra, there arises the rebirth consciousness), kusala sankhăra (meritorious deeds) will cause the arising of rebirth consciousness. Hence, kusala acts must be abandoned. Such assertion definitely contradicts the true meaning of the Buddha's teaching and is highly misleading.
As a matter of fact, if kusala acts were to be given up, one would be left entirely with akusala acts which would not only prolong the rounds of existences but surely would lead to the four nether worlds. The real cause for ceaseless rounds of rebirths is rooted in defilements of avijjă and tanhă (craving). And these defilements can be removed by kusala acts which should, therefore, be performed with a view to eradicating these defilements. A simple meritorious act can cause rebirth in a good abode (sugati) where Dhamma can be heard and practised to become a noble person (ariya), thus escaping from the sufferings of the nether worlds and rounds of existences.
The story of the Frog Deity serves to illustrate this point. The Frog Deity was a frog in his previous existences when it happened to hear a discourse given by the Blessed One. Without understanding a word of the discourse, the frog listened to it with respectful attention and complacence, for which good deed he was reborn in the deva world. As a deva, he gained the opportunity of listening to the Buddha's Teaching again, by virtue of which he attained the stage of sotăpanna.
Thus effort should be made to bring out any form of wholesome things which have not yet arisen, especially the meritorious deeds which would lead to the Ariya Path. Every time such effort is made, there develops the Path of Right Effort.
4. Effort to maintain the wholesome things that have already arisen and to develop them to maturity and full perfection. This is plain enough. A yogi noting everything at the moment of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing, is actually making effort to prevent, to deny opportunity to evil, unwholesome things from arising. It also means endeavouring to remove, to eradicate the unwholesome things that have already arisen. The yogi is at the same time striving to develop the higher stage of vipassană kusalas and Ariya Path, merits which have not yet arisen. He is also striving to maintain and to bring to perfection the vipassană kusalas which have already arisen. Thus, every time one is noting each phenomenon as a meditation exercise, one is developing the path of the Right Effort or the four sammappadhănas, which can be summarised as follows:
These are called
the four sammappadhănas, the four great efforts.
He dwells contemplating
on the feelings merely as feeling, impermanent, painful, uncontrollable,
etc. He dwells contemplating on the mind, noting it merely as a process
of thinking and of consciousness, impermanent, painful, uncontrollable,
etc. He dwells contemplating on the mind-objects, nothing them merely
as phenomena of seeing, hearing, etc., impermanent, painful, uncontrollable,
etc. To perceive thus, he dwells intensely ardent, mindful and rightly
comprehending having overcome covetousness and grief for the world
of feelings, the world of mind, the world of mind-objects, in other
words the world of the five aggregates. Bhikkhus, being mindful thus
so as to comprehend rightly is called Right Mindfulness." These
are the Buddha's words elaborating on the path of Right Mindfulness.
This is a moot point which needs to be pondered upon. For unless they had a clear comprehension about it, they would not be able to develop Right Mindfulness. And in the absence of Right Mindfulness, attainment to higher knowledge of the noble path and fruition is an impossibility.
Two considerations are possible here. The first one is that the Venerable Kondańńa and the brahmăs and devăs who were already fully ripe with uncommon, unique păramis, destined for final liberation, on just hearing the words 'right mindfulness', at once understood that they should take note of every bodily action, etc., and develop the path of Right Mindfulness. They accordingly did so and in this way attained to higher knowledge.
The second consideration is that when the discourse was first given, for clear understanding by his audience the Blessed One elaborated on the headings of the Noble Eightfold Path and expounded also on the four foundations of mindfulness. However, at the time of the First Council, the Dhammacakka Sutta, the Noble Eightfold Path as such and as a component of the Four Noble Truths, was recited in its condensed form i.e. of a heading only; there being in existence separate expositions or exegeses on them in other suttas. It may be asked whether there are similar cases of other suttas being recited and condensed form at the First Council. The answer is 'yes'. The Satipatthăna Sutta in Mula Pannăsa is a condensation of the Mahă Satipatthăna Sutta, only the first portion of which was recited at the time of the First Council. But now at the proceedings of the Sixth Great Council, the missing portions of the suttas had been filled up and recorded although the latter portions of the sutta were not mentioned in the commentary to Mula Pannăsa. Similarly, some long suttas belonging to some other Nikayas were recorded in condensed form in Khuddaka Nikăya.
Thus, it may be taken here that expositions on Right Mindfulness given at the time of the discourse were left out and the sutta recited compendiously during the First Great Council. As such the question need not arise as to how the deeper, detailed meaning of the Noble Eightfold Path could be known from its mere title. Nowadays, the four foundations of mindfulness which I have just recited is well-known by many. And there is the Mahă Satipatthăna Sutta itself which supplies elaboration on the summarised title of the Noble Eightfold Path. There exist also many commentaries on this sutta. Yet, inspite of them, there are only a few who know how to develop the path of Right Mindfulness. Therefore, we are personally of the opinion that the Blessed One had actually expounded the path in full detail when he was giving the first discourse for the benefit of many.
Here, it must
be firmly noted that the path of Right Mindfulness is the four foundations
of mindfulness. How this path should be developed is provided in the
Păli text just quoted. This Păli text is exactly the same as the summarised
introductory passage to the Mahă Satipatthăna Sutta. Finding this
compendious account not adequate for full understanding, one can have
recourse to deep study of the Mahă Satipatthăna Sutta itself.
In addition, as
mentioned in the section on Mindfulness with clear comprehension,
sampajańńa paths, all body movements involved in going forward
or going back, looking straight on or looking askant, bending or stretching
the limbs, should be noted.
For purposes of Insight Meditation (vipassană), we have used the term vipassană khanika samădhi, Insight Momentary concentration to describe the said concentration. Some people find it difficult to understand this usage and criticize its use. They maintain that Insight Vipassană cannot be developed by means of momentary concentration. They argued that if it were possible, monastic students studying the scriptures should be able to acquire Insight knowledge. We could accept this view if the students' concentration were strong enough to dispel the hindrances and if, at the same time, they were contemplating on the phenomenon of rupa and năma at the moment of their arising in accordance with the Maha Satipatthăna Sutta. But it is quite plain that concentration involved in recitation of and reflection on the scriptures which students have learnt by heart is not intense enough to overcome the hindrances nor are they taking note of the phenomena of năma and rupa at the moment of their arising. Our critic is, therefore, obviously not conversant with correct practices of Vipassană.
In Visuddhi Magga, vipassană khanika concentration is mentioned as khanika cittakaggată. In its sub-commentary, it is referred to as khanamattahitiko samădhi, etc. Thus, based on the authority of the Commentary and the sub-commentary, we have employed the term Vipasannă Khaňika Samădhi to describe the concentration which is by virtue of identity, access concentration. Once these explanations are well understood, confusion will surely cease in the minds of our critics.
As stated above, if contemplation of corporeality is accomplished by taking note of them as they arise, in accordance with the section on body postures, clear comprehension and attention to elements (iriyapatha, sampajańńă and dhatumanasikăra), Access concentration which may be termed vipassană khaňika concentration is developed. And together with it, Insight knowledge (Vipassană ńăna), which is also known as Vipassană Sammăditthi, Insight of Right View, is also developed. These are then Sammă Sati Magga, Sammă Samădhi Magga and Sammă Ditthi Magga, otherwise called the Foundation of Mindfulness with regard to contemplation of body, kăyănupassană satipatthana.
With regard to the above statement that 'Attention to Elements' is an object of meditation for Access Concentration, we have the authority of the Visuddhi Magga which mentions this meditation object as Catudhătuvavatthăna. No doubt should also be entertained about our assertion that contemplation of body postures and clear comprehension leads to Access Concentration because the commentary to the Satipatthăna Sutta definitely confirms them to be meditation objects for Access Concentration.
In addition, according to the section on Contemplation of Feelings, etc., mindfulness of feelings, mindfulness of the mind, and mindfulness of mental objects (dhammas) at the moment of their arising will lead to development of access concentration and Insight Knowledge. Therefore, the Visuddhi Magga gives at the beginning of the chapter on Purification of Views, a description of how a person who begins practising bare insight straightaway contemplates on the Four Primary Elements followed by discernment of 18 elements, 12 bases (ayatanas), 5 aggregates and of rupa and năma. This is in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha as provided in the Mahă Satipatthăna Sutta, etc.
By now, having
heard the above explanations and considerations, it should be possible
to understand how to develop the path of Right Mindfulness in conformity
with the sutta discourses of the Blessed One. And having thus understood,
one should be able to determine whether mere recitation of and reflection
on what one has learnt from the scriptures instead of mindfully noting
the body, the feeling, the mind and the mental objects at the moment
of their arising, leads to the true path of Right Mindfulness. It
is plain also that in the absence of the proper path of Right Mindfulness,
the proper path of Vipassană Right View (vipassană sammăditthi
magga) can never be established.
There is no such
thing as development of insight knowledge, knowledge pertaining to
the noble path, without contemplation of any of the meditation objects,
namely, body, feelings, mind and mental objects (dhammas).
Therefore, it should be realized that the minister Santati and Patasra
Theri (who were said to have attained the higher knowledge of the
noble path and fruition in the course of hearing a discourse on dhamma)
had overcome their sorrow and lamentation through the practice of
the path of the four foundations of mindfulness.
Here, Right Mindfulness alone will not bring about the desired objective. Having achieved Right Mindfulness, it is only by comprehending the truth as it really is that the desired end is attained. Therefore, in the summarised introduction to the Satipatthăna just cited above, it is mentioned 'to have ardent mindfulness with clear comprehension'. In the exposition of this summarised introduction, such terms as pajănăti' (to know in different ways) or samudaya dhammănupassi (to know the cause of arising and ceasing) are employed.
We have thus summarised this path of Right Mindfulness as follows: to develop Right Mindfulness, there must be ardent mindfulness with clear comprehension . . .
We have taken
considerable time to discuss in detail the path of Right Mindfulness
as it is very important for the understanding of many people. We shall
proceed now with consideration of the path of Right Concentration.
For that, we shall confine ourselves only to the most essential points
of the Teaching concerning the path of Right Concentration. To recite
all the expositions on the subject will be covering too wide a scope,
hard to be grasped by those with limited knowledge.
Here, jhăna means not allowing the mind to wander about but having it fixed on a single object to remain tranquilized. According to the suttas, there are four types of jhănas:
These four types
of jhănas may be higher lokiya (mundane) jhănas
also known as rupavacara and arupa-vacara jhănas or lokuttară
(supramundane) jhăna accompanied by the noble path consciousness.
The lokuttară jhăna samădhi is the path of noble Right Concentration
proper; the lokiya jhăna samădhi may be classed as the path
of Right Concentration if it forms the basis for the development of
These authorities state further that the innumerable people by lakhs, millions and crores who became liberated during the course of discourses given by the Buddha were not skilled in jhănas. It is most probably that many of them were unequipped with jhăna attainments. But they must have achieved purification of mind, because their mind then was described as responsive, tender, free from hindrances, exultant and pure. Commentaries clearly mention that it was at such opportune moment that the Blessed One delivered the most exalted, sublime discourse on the Four Truths which only the Buddha alone could expound. Commentaries clearly state that his audience attained higher knowledge as a consequence of listening to such deliverances
In view of such consideration, definitions given in the teachings on Right Concentration in terms of the four jhănas should be regarded as a superlative method of description. The access concentration, although described in an inferior way, may also be taken as the right concentration which can accomplish the purification of mind. The said access concentration has the same characteristics of suppressing the hindrances as the first jhăna. They are similar too in having the same five factors of jhăna, namely vitakka, vicăra, piti, sukha and ekaggată. Consequently we take it that the Blessed One had included both the proper access concentration and the nominal access concentration under the category of the first jhăna as an inferior way of definition.
Jhăna means closely observing an object with fixed attention. Concentrated attention given to a selected object of meditation such as respiration for tranquillity concentration gives rise to samatha jhăna; whereas noting the characteristic nature of rupa, năma and contemplating on their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality brings about vipassană jhăna. We have given the following summarised note for easy memory:
The momentary concentration mentioned above refers to the fairly calm state before access concentration is attained in the course of meditating upon tranquillity meditation objects (samatha kammathăna objects) and also to the vipassană samădhi. As explained above, of these two, the vipassană samădhi is also called access concentration because it has the same characteristic of suppressing the hindrances as access concentration. When Vipassană concentration becomes strongly developed, it can keep the mind well-tranquilized just like the absorption concentration. This has been clearly borne out by the personal experiences of the yogis practising Satipatthăna meditation.
Therefore, in the Mahă Tika, the sub-commentary to the Visuddhi Magga, we find: 'True, khanika cittekaggata is (vidassană) samădhi which lasts for only the duration of the moment of each arising. When vipassană khanika samădhi occurs uninterrupted with năma and rupa as its meditative objects, maintaining tranquillity in a single mode at a stretch and not being overcome by opposing defilements, it fixes the mind immovably as if in absorption jhăna.
Accordingly, a person engaged in Vipassană meditation and intent on developing himself up to the path and fruition stage, should endeavour, if possible, to reach the first jhăna or the second, the third, the fourth or all the four jhănas. And when having any of them, he should train himself to maintain them and be skillful with them. Failing, however, to reach the jhanic stage, he should strive to bring about the access concentration in the neighbourhood of the jhăna.
The vipassană yănika, on the other hand, who begins with contemplation on năma and rupa such as the four primaries, should try to become established in vipassană khanika samădhi which is capable of suppressing the hindrances just like the access concentration. When fully established thus, the series of insight knowledge will arise beginning with the analytical knowledge concerning năma and rópa (nămarupa pariccheda ńăna ). Thus vipassană khanika samădhi and access concentration are also to be regarded as the path of Right Concentration.
We have dealt
fairly comprehensively with the path of Right Concentration. We shall
now proceed to elaborate on the path of knowledge (pańńă).
In short, knowing the Four Truths as they really are is the path of Right View. this should be developed as explained above in the methods of development of Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Further elucidation will be provided here for clear understanding.
There are five types of Right View according to the commentary to the Anguttara Nikaya, namely:
Uparipannăsa mentions also five types similar to the above, but instead of jhăna sammăditthi, there is paccevekhana sammăditthi. Combining the two lists, we have the following six types of Right View:
In the above list,
phala sammădiööhi is the right view that accompanies the four phala
states which are the results of four Noble Paths. Attainment of the
knowledge of the four Noble Paths is spontaneously followed by knowledge
of the Fruition. There is nothing special to be done to attain the
knowledge of Fruition. In addition, paccavekkhana sammăditthi
is self-reflection that comes also spontaneously after attainment
of the Path and Fruition. No effort is needed to bring it about. One
should strive only for the first four types which we will elaborate
A well-behaved child, having acquired good education in his young days, will grow into a prosperous, successful adult. Following a lucrative trade or industry leads to wealth and prosperity; unprofitable endeavours such as gambling surely leads to ruin. Such instances of good or bad retribution following good or evil actions are within our daily experiences.
Throughout the endless cycle of samsăra, this law of kamma prevails - good action leading to good results, evil action leading to bad consequences. As a result of evil deeds done in past existences, one has to suffer evil consequences such as short span of life, various ailments, ugliness, poverty, and lack of followers or attendants in the present life. Evil acts such as killing, torturing, stealing, robbing, lying, etc., done in this life will bear fruits in future existences - being born in inferior planes accompanied by similar evil retribution.
As a result of
good deeds done in previous existences, good results come to fruition
in the present life and one enjoys longevity, free from ailments,
endowed with beauty, wealth and attended upon by many followers. Avoiding
evil acts of killing, torturing, stealing, robbing and being well-disposed
to good deeds of generosity, help and service to others, one is reborn
in higher existences, enjoying the fruit of these good deeds.
This belief or the right view is not brought about by one's own penetrative intuition like the insight knowledge. It is mere acceptance of the view based on faith in the words of the elders and scriptures after weighing upon evidences of known instances and their credibility. This right view is included in the list of ten meritorious deeds and is known as meritorious right view, sucarita sammăditthi. The wrong view which denies existence of kamma and its results, in spite of their reality, is micchăditthi; it is classed as one of the ten demeritorious deeds and is termed demeritorious wrong view, ducarita micchăditthi. Reference may be made to the second volume of our discourse on Sallekha Sutta for further elucidation on ducarita micchăditthi.
Sucarita sammăditthi otherwise called kammassakata sammăditthi forms the root of all good actions. Based on this root, evil deeds are avoided and simple good deeds such as dăna and sila can be performed. The meritorious deeds of tranquillity meditation and insight meditation can also be cultivated. For this reason, this sammăditthi and sila are stated to be the preliminaries to the good deeds of samădhi and pańńă.
"Bhikkhu, since you have asked for a brief teaching on meditation which you wish to practise in solitude, I urge you to work first for the purification of those dhammas which form the starting point for development of samădhi and pańńă. And what are these preliminary requirements? They are purified sila and straight view.
Bhikkhu, when you have purified your sila and maintained the straight view, then leaning on your sila and standing on it, you may go on to developing the four foundations of mindfulness in three modes: contemplating on internal objects, contemplating on external objects, and then contemplating on internal and external objects."
From these words of the Blessed One, it is obvious that kammassakata sammăditthi and sila magga are preliminary foundations which have to be set up before a yogi starts practising meditation. It is clear also that for the development of Vipassană, jhăna samădhi and upacăra samădhi are prerequisites to achieve the initial purification of mind. Further, it is evident that in order to establish ariya magga, vipassană magga otherwise called pubbabhăga magga, which is precursory to it, must be developed first. We have, therefore, described the full Path in three stages:
IN THREE STAGES
Liberation may be achieved by developing the Eightfold Noble Path which must be preceded by its precursor, namely, the pubbabhăga vipassană magga. However, to develop the magga, basic requirements must first be fulfilled, that is the development of kammassakata magga, the three sila magga and samădhi magga.
For people who take refuge in the Buddha's dispensation, kammassakata sammăditthi has already been established. As to the sila magga, if the laity is not yet already established in it, he may accomplish it by observing the precepts on the eve of starting meditation practices. If a Bhikkhu yogi entertains any doubt about the purity of his sila, he should, at the very outset, strive for its purification by undergoing the parivarsa and manatta punishments. If he happens to possess impermissible properties, he should discard them and gain purity by confession of his offence. After thus ensuring the purity of his sila, the Bhikkhu should strive for attainment of one, two, three or all four jhănas. If unable to do so, he should work for gaining at least the access concentration in the neighbourhood of jhăna. If he cannot work separately for the jhanic concentration, he must try to achieve the vipassană khanika samădhi (which has the same characteristics of suppressing the hindrances as in access concentration) by contemplation on the four primaries, etc. This does not involve establishment of concentration (samădhi) as such, but by keeping close awareness of the true nature of năma, rupa, Vipassană concentration automatically arises. But by having the attention dispersed over many objects or having it fixed on objects which are not easily discernable, concentration takes a long time to come about. Confining to limited objects which can be distinctly noted will facilitate and hasten the development of concentration.
Therefore, we are instructing our yogis to start with noting văyo dhătu, the characteristics of which are stiffness, pressure, motion becoming evident in the region of the abdomen. As the abdomen rises, note 'rising', as it falls, note 'falling'. Begin by noting just these two motions, rising and falling, but this does not comprise all that has to be done. While noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, if thinking arises, note that too as 'thinking' and then go back to noting rising and falling. If some painful feeling appears in the body, note that too. When it subsides or when it has been noted for sometime, go back to rising and falling. If there is bending, stretching or moving of the limbs, you must note 'bending', 'stretching' or 'moving'. Whatever bodily movement there is, you have to note it. Then revert to the 'rising' and 'falling' of the abdomen. When you see or hear anything clearly, note 'seeing' or 'hearing' for some moment and then return to 'rising' and 'falling'.
By thus taking
note of every phenomenon attentively, the mind becomes distinctly
calm and concentrated. At every moment of awareness, the object observed
(rupa) will appear separately from the mind (năma)
that cognizes it. It is the beginning of development of special
vipassană ńăna (insight knowledge) which distinguishes năma
from rupa by virtue of the concentrated, calm mind. This
was the special insight knowledge referred to by the Blessed One when
he said, "cakkhu karani ńăna karani, . . . (vision arose,
insight arose . . .) etc." Bhikkhuni theras meant the same thing
when they uttered, "Pubbenăparam visesaő sańjănanti
. . . (preceding knowledge is superseded by the knowledge following
The yogi alternately goes into jhănic state and emerges from it to contemplate on the mental and physical phenomena involved in it. While he repeats this alternate performance several times, the vipassană maggas become strongly developed, soon leading to the realization of Nibbăna. The possibility of such realization is described thus in the Jhăna sutta, Navaka Nipata of Anguttara Pali text: "Bhikkhus, in this Teaching, the Bhikkhu enters and stays in the first jhăna. When he rises from that state, he contemplates on the physical body, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness that exist during the jhănic moment and he sees them as transitory, painful and insubstantial. Seeing thus he stays with the Vipassană knowledge so gained and attains the Arahatta phala state, the cessation of all asavas."
This is how a jhăna-lăbhi attains Ariyan Path by Vipassană meditation on jhănic mind and mental concomitants, and năma, rupa phenomena that actually have arisen and passed away in his own body-continuum. Here, serious consideration should be given to the fact that it is not mere reflection on what one has learnt from books, but actually watching and seeing the phenomena of arising and perishing away of rupa and năma as it actually happens inside his body-continuum.
is obvious that just as jhăna-lăbhis, after entering into
and rising from jhănic states, have to meditate on the arising and
passing away of mental states, etc., that have actually occurred in
the immediate preceding moment, so also yogis not endowed with jhăna,
or a-jhăna-lăbhis, have to contemplate on the arising and
passing away of sensuous desires, etc., as they happen in the immediate
When fatigue overtakes the yogi by contemplating on the miscellaneous objects that appear at the sense-doors, he reverts back to the jhănic state. After gaining recuperation there, he goes on with the contemplation of rupa and năma wherever they appear. In this way, based on his jhăna, he develops vipassană ńăna until it is strong enough to lead him to realization of Nibbăna through ariya magga ńăna.
This method of contemplation is described in exposition on Dwedhavittakka sutta in the commentary to Mula Pannăsa as follows:
"In these words the Buddha talked about the time when Bodhisatta developed insight meditation based on jhăna. Truly, when both samădhi and vipassană of a yogi are not yet fully mature, if he sits very long developing insight meditation, fatigue overwhelms him, there is burning sensation in the body as if flames are bursting, sweat oozing out from the armpits, he feels as if hot steamy gas is rushing forth from the top of his head. The tortured mind twitches and struggles. The yogi reverts to the jhănic state to reduce the mental and physical strain to get relief from them, and thus refreshing himself, he returns to the task of meditation. By sitting long at it he again fatigues himself. Then he seeks relief once more by re-entry into jhănic state. Indeed, he should do so. Entering the jhănic state is greatly beneficial to Vipassană meditation.
This is how miscellaneous volitional activities are used as objects for meditation starting with jhăna, which the yogi maintains as his base. Yogis, not endowed with jhăna, contemplates only on the miscellaneous volitional activities such as touching, thinking, hearing, seeing, etc. When fatigue overtakes them while doing so, they cannot, of course, seek relief by entry to jhănic state. They revert to the limited objective of noting the rise and fall of the abdomen. By limiting the object of meditation, mental and physical fatigue and strain are alleviated.
Thus refreshed, they go back to the continuous observation of the miscellaneous volitional activities. In this way, when vipassană samădhi ńăna becomes strengthened, the yogi can engage himself in continuous meditation day and night without physical or mental discomfort or distress. The meditational objects seem to arise in the mind of themselves. With effortless mindfulness, the process of knowing the reality as it is flows on smoothly. The truth about anicca, dukkha, anatta dawns upon him spontaneously. As this knowledge gains pace and gathers speed, both the sense-objects and the knowing mind plunge into the state of dissolution and cessation. This is rushing headlong into the Nibbăna by means of the Noble Path, ariya magga. We have summarised, therefore, that
As meditation continues, the yogi discerns with each noting the origination as well as the dissolution of every phenomenon. This results in his realization of the truth of impermanence with respect to both the sense-object and the knowing mind. This phenomenon of incessant arising and passing away without any break leads to the conviction that it is all fearful suffering, unpleasant suffering, mere insubstantiality, not amenable to one's will or control. Such clear conviction constitutes the path of right view, sammăditthi magga.
Therefore, the Buddha had said that knowledge of the real truth of suffering is the path of right view. When the truth of suffering is discerned at every contemplation by means of the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta, the task of comprehending the remaining three truths is accomplished. How this is accomplished will be dealt with later in the section on magga saccă.
Bending the mind
to know the true nature of năma and rupa, their origination and dissolution
by way of the three characteristic of anicca, dukkha and anatta
constitutes sammă saďkappa, the path of right thought. The
two paths of right view and right thought are grouped together as
the path of insight, pańńă magga.
The sila magga,
comprising of right speech, right action and right livelihood, has
been established even before meditation starts and they remain firm,
getting purer during the course of meditation. With these three maggas,
the combined total of eight maggas known as the pubbabhăga
maggas are being developed with each noting of every phenomenon.
"What, Bhikkhus, is right thoughts? Thoughts on freedom from sensuous desires, lusts, . . . nekkhama sankappa; thoughts on non-killing, on non-desire for killing, thoughts of wishing well to others . . . abyăpăda sankappa; thoughts on non-cruelty, on giving protection out of pity . . . avihiősa sankappa. These three modes of thoughts are known as right thought (sammă sankappa)."
All thoughts of good deeds such as performance of meritorious acts, seeking ordination (entering monkhood), listening to discourses on dhamma, and practising dhamma, are factors of renunciation, nekkhama sankappa (for details see our Discourse on Sallekha Sutta, Vol.2).
According to the above verse, it is clear that practising Vipassană meditation fulfills the nekkhamma sankappa factor of sammă sankappa. Thoughts of non-killing and wishing well to others form abyăpăda sankappa. Especially when Metta bhavana is developed, this factor of abyăpăda sankappa is being fulfilled. Thoughts of consideration and mercy form, avihiősa sankappa, which is especially fulfilled while engaged in karuna bhăvană.
In the course of Vipassană meditation, as no thought of killing nor cruelty with respect to the sense-object under contemplation gets the opportunity to arise, it should be considered that these two factors of sammă saďkappa are fulfilled with every act of noting. But, the thought involved in Vipassană meditation is not intentional exercise of deliberate cogitation or conceiving. It is just slight bending of the mind or giving direction to it toward perceiving the true reality of rupa and năma, the nature of their origination and dissolution and the truth concerning anicca, dukkha and anatta.
We have discoursed fully on the mula magga as well as on the Eightfold vipassană magga, otherwise called pubbabhăga magga. When the vipassană magga is fully developed, it gets transformed into ariya magga leading to the realization of Nibbăna. Therefore, pubbabhăga magga may be called the forerunner heralding the ariya magga which follows it. In other words, they form the first and last parts respectively of the same continuous Path. To attain the ariya magga which forms the last part of the Path, the initial portion of it, namely the vipassană magga, has to be accomplished first. In this manner, the last stage of the Path, the ariya magga, will develop by itself.
To give an illustration, if a person wants to jump across a stream, he should come running to it with speed and jump. Once he has taken the jump, no more effort need be exerted by him. He will land automatically on the other side of the stream. Developing the vipassană magga may be likened to the approach to the stream with speed and jumping. Landing on the other side of the stream is comparable to the realization of ariya magga in consequence of the momentum gained from the vipassană magga. Therefore, we summarise again, by reciting:
May you all good people in this audience, by virtue of having given respectful attention to this great Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, be able to develop the Middle Path, otherwise called the Noble Eightfold Path and by means of the Path and Fruition according as you wish, attain Nibbăna, the end of all sufferings.