is the full moon of Tazaungmon. It is used to be a great holy day marked
with festivities in central India at the time of the Buddha, being the
end of the month of rainy season and end of the year according to the
tradition of that time. In Burma, we celebrate the day with the festival
of lights and paying homage to the Blessed One.
We shall discuss today Nirodha Saccă, the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, and magga saccă, the Truth of the Path leading to the cessation of suffering as taught in the Dhammacakka Sutta. We shall recite now the titles of the four Noble Truths:
"Bhikkhus, what I am going to teach now is the Noble Truth of extinction of suffering, the real truth which Nobles Ones should know. It is the complete fading away and cessation of that hunger, that craving without remainder, its forsaking and giving up, relinquishing, letting go, release and abandoning of the same craving."
The truth of extinction of suffering is the cessation of craving (samudaya saccă) otherwise called the Truth of the Origin of Suffering. By virtue of vipassană ńăna and ariya magga ńăna, that craving gets no opportunity to arise and vanish. It is like darkness being dispelled by sunlight. When arahatta magga ńăna appears, the craving has no chance to arise and gets extinguished entirely. With the cessation of tanhă, the aggregates of năma, rupa for new life cannot make their appearance and completely cease to exist. This non-arising or cessation of tauhă is termed the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. Cessation of tanhă by virtue of arahatta magga ńăna is complete, total extinction of tanhă and the noblest and highest form of extinction.
There are inferior forms of cessation. For instance, cessation by virtue of the anăgămi magga which completely extinguishes only kăma tanhă (the craving for sensuous pleasures), cessation by the sagadagămi magga which eliminates only the grosser forms of kăma tanhă, cessation by virtue of sotăpatti magga which removes the kăma tanhă that will give rise to rebirth in the nether worlds. These cessations are concerned with only partial extinction of tanhă and may be regarded as inferior types of nirodha saccă. Then, there is another form of cessation which comes about through meditating on the nature of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality. During the period of contemplation on them, tanhă gets no opportunity to arise and, hence, there occurs temporary cessation of tanhă. It may be regarded as cessation by half measures of tanhă by means of partial development of vipassană ńăna. Every time one is engaged in Vipassană meditation, it may be said that one is realizing the temporary cessation of tanhă.
The Păli texts provide the following expositions of the truth of cessation of craving by answering the question 'where may this craving be discarded, where may it be extinguished?' "Wherever in the world there are delightful and pleasurable things, there this craving may be discarded, there it may be extinguished."
Here, delightful and pleasurable things mean, as already explained before, the six doors of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind; six sense objects of visual sight, sound, smell, taste, bodily impression and mind; six vińńănas of eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, etc., For further details, reference may be made to the text and translation of the Mahă Satipatthăna Sutta.
extinguishing are alike in meaning. Similarly, căgo (abandoning,
giving up), patinissaggo (giving up, forsaking, rejection),
mutti (release, freedom, emancipation), analayo
(aversion, doing away with) . . . all connote the same meaning as
nirodha (cessation, annihilation).
In a similar manner, the yogi, by noting 'hearing', 'smelling', 'ear-consciousness', 'nose-consciousness', etc., at the moment of hearing, smelling, etc., becomes convinced of the true nature of impermanence, suffering and non-self with respect to ear, sound, nose, taste, etc. He will be free from delusion of permanence, happiness or self in connection with these objects. Thus, there will be momentary cessation of craving and suffering, otherwise called momentary Nibbăna.
Through vipassană which promotes temporary cessation as higher knowledge is developed, Nibbăna is realized by means of sotăpanna ńăna. Sotăpanna ńăna extinguishes kăma tanhă which can give rise to rebirth in the states of woe. Therefore, the yogi becomes fully liberated from miseries of apăya, the nether world and sufferings of more than seven existences in good states of sensuous sphere (kămasugati). This is then extinction of suffering as a result of extinction of craving, but it must not be regarded that sotăpanna magga phala takes the cessation of craving as its object of contemplation. It dwells merely on cessation as a result of complete extinction of suffering inherent in the aggregates of năma, rupa.
When Nibbăna is realized by means of sagadăgami ńăna, grosser forms of sensuous craving together with sufferings of more than two existences in the sensuous planes are extinguished. When Nibbăna is realized through anăgămi ńăna, subtle forms of sensuous cravings and sufferings of more than one existence in rupa loka (fine material sphere) or in arupa loka (non-material sphere) are extinguished. These are also extinction of suffering as a result of extinction of craving. In these paths also, the mind dwells merely on cessation consequent upon the complete extinction of sufferings inherent in the aggregates of năma, rupa.
When Nibbăna is realized through arahatta magga ńăna, all forms of craving and all kinds of suffering are completely eradicated. This is also extinction of suffering as a result of extinction of craving. We can summarise:
1 When craving is eradicated, suffering is extinguished.
Only when craving is completely eradicated, true liberation from suffering is achieved. Escape from suffering obtained through other means is not true liberation, but just temporary relief because in due course, there is recurrence of suffering. For example, take stretching the limbs to relieve stiffness due to bending. The ache is temporarily removed through stretching, only to return as tiredness. Likewise, stiffness due to prolonged sitting may be relieved by standing up or walking about only to be replaced soon by fatigue. When one is assailed by hunger, the suffering may be relieved by partaking of some food, but the trouble will start again after a lapse of a few hours. Illness or disease may be cured with suitable medical treatment, but other ailments are bound to arise sooner or later to start giving trouble again.
Difficult circumstances of living may be solved by engaging in suitable employment or business which may prove so successful and prosperous that one may come to occupy a very high position in one's profession or become a very rich man. Yet with the vissicitudes of life, one may fall down from the high position or become poverty-stricken. Even if the whole life has been smooth and just plain sailing, one inevitably faces suffering at the time of death. As a result of meritorious deeds such as giving alms, observing moral precepts, one may be reborn a human being in happy prosperous circumstances or one may be born as a powerful celestial king. Yet when the wholesome effects of previous good deeds become exhausted, a return to miserable existences is inevitable. If one strives for a happy and long existence by means of the rupa jhăna and arupa jhăna of the concentration meditations, one may indeed attain the rupa brăhma world and arupa brăhma world where one may live happily for many world cycles. The wholesome merits of the jhănas will become exhausted when the time comes. Then one faces the possibility of descending once again into miserable lower existences, as for instance, the experience of the young female pig mentioned in the chapter on samudaya saccă.
Thus, unless craving is completely eradicated, no form of liberation is a guaranteed, true liberation. Complete and permanent liberation from all kinds of suffering is achieved only when craving has been entirely extinguished. Thus the Buddha taught 'tassayeva tanhăya asesa virăga nirodhă', that eradication, extinction of tanhă is the truth of cessation of suffering.
This is in accordance with the doctrine of dependent origination which states that when the causative conditions such as ignorance, etc., cease, their resultant effects, sankhăras, etc., also cease. Thus in the Anguttara Păli text, it is taught: "What, Bhikkhus, is the noble truth of cessation of suffering? Through the total fading away and extinction of ignorance (which has been dealt with in connection with samudaya saccă) sankhăras kamma (formations) are extinguished; through the extinction of sankhăras kamma, the resultant vińńăna for new existence, is extinguished; through the extinction of vińńăna, the mental and physical existences are extinguished; through the extinction of mental and physical existences, salăyatana (the six organs of senses) are extinguished; through the extinction of six organs, phassa (sensorial impressions due to contact between sense organs and sense objects) are extinguished; through extinction of sensorial impressions, vedană (feeling of sensations) is extinguished; through extinction of feeling, craving is extinguished; through extinction of craving, clinging (attachment) is extinguished; through the extinction of clinging, process of becoming is extinguished; through extinction of process of becoming, rebirth is extinguished; through extinction of rebirth, death and decay, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are extinguished. Thus takes place the extinction of this whole mass of mere suffering, which is neither soul entity nor does it have any connection with sukha (happiness). This, bhikkhus, is called the noble truth of extinction of this mass of mere suffering."
In the above text, the sequence of cessation, for example, through extinction of ignorance, kamma formations are extinguished, is given in a serial order to demonstrate the correlation of each cause with its effect. But the important point to note is that once the ignorance fades away, vanishes, all its resultant effects such as sankhăra, etc., become extinguished.
The Păli words nirodha or nirodho in the texts connote cessation only, not the place of cessation nor the condition of cessation. Although commentaries mention nirodha figuratively as a place of cessation or condition of cessation, it must be carefully observed that its true meaning is non-arising of inter-related conditions of cause and effects such as avijjă, sankhăra, vińńăna, etc., their total cessation, annihilation, cutting off, in other words the Noble Truth of cessation of suffering or Nibbăna.
We have sufficiently
dealt with the truth of cessation of suffering. For further details,
reference may be made to the book 'Concerning Nibbăna'. We shall now
go on to exposition of the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the
Cessation of Suffering.
We have dealt with magga saccă, the truth of the Path, fairly full before. We propose now to go over some of them which need emphasising. Of the eight categories of the Path, sammă ditthi and sammă saďkappa constitute the pańńă (wisdom) group; sammă văca, sammă kammanta and sammă ajiva the sila (ethical conduct) group; sammă văyama, sammă sati and sammă samădhi, the samădhi (mental discipline) group.
We need not elaborate
again on the path of sila (ethical conduct or morality) nor
on the path of samădhi (concentration). Of the wisdom group,
the path of sammă ditthi (the Right View) needs no further
exposition. Accordingly, we quote the following exposition on the
Right View given by the Blessed One.
This is then the definition of the Right View given by the Blessed One. Briefly, it is knowing according to reality the four Truths and understanding them rightly as they should be understood. The commentary version of its exposition is as follows:
ON THE FOUR TRUTHS
(It means that the yogi bhikkhu contemplates on the first two mundane truths in his Vipassană meditation; he does not dwell on the last two supra-mundane truths which are not suitable subjects for meditation. Indeed, it is not possible to meditate on them. Why so? The sub-commentary states that these supra-mundane truths are beyond the ken of the ordinary common worldlings.)
Indeed it is true that ordinary common worldlings cannot have for their objects of meditation, magga and phala (the path and fruition) nor is Nibbăna within their range of vision and knowledge before they attain the stage of gotrabhu in meditation. Gotrabhu consciousness arises only after anuloma ńăna when vipassană ńăna becomes fully developed; immediately after gotrabhu comes the realisation of the Path and Fruition. Therefore, it is obvious that a common worldling is not in a position to take for his object of meditation the true Nibbăna nor the path and its fruition. Thus, it must be carefully noted that any instruction or teaching to start off with meditation on Nibbăna is totally wrong.
The question can arise whether Nibbăna may not be taken as an object for meditation on tranquillity (upasamă nupassană). Contemplation on the attributive qualities of Nibbăna such as virăga (being devoid of lust) may be adopted as concentration meditation to gain concentration or tranquillity. But this exercise is taken solely for the purpose of achieving one-pointedness of mind; it is not to immediately realize the noble path and fruition. In any case, this meditation exercise is most appropriate for the Noble Ones only who have already realized Nibbăna and not for the ordinary common worldlings. Thus it is definitely a mistaken practice to try to achieve the path and fruition by dwelling on Nibbăna from the very start.
The yogi bhikkhu learns from his teacher briefly that the five aggregates are the Truth of Suffering and craving is the Truth of origin of suffering. Or, he may learn more comprehensively that the five aggregates consist of rupakkhandhă, vedanakkhandhă, sańńakkhandhă, saďkhărakkhandhă, vińńakkhandhă. And rupakkhandhă means the four primary elements and upădărupas, their derivatives, etc. Thus, learning about the first two truths briefly or comprehensively from his teacher, he recites them repeatedly and contemplates on them in his meditation. With regard to the last two truths, the bhikkhu just hears from his teacher that the Truth of cessation of suffering and the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering are desirable and laudable (this means that it is sufficient just to hear about these two supra-mundane truths and bend the mind towards them).
That bhikkhu, acting in the way described above, penetrates through to the four Truths simultaneously and comprehends them. He makes full grasp of the four Truths simultaneously through insight. By pativeda (penetrative knowledge) he comprehends that suffering is to be rightly and well-understood; that craving is to be abandoned, eradicated; that nirodha (cessation) is to be realized and that the path is to be developed. By abhisamaya (insight) he fully grasps that suffering is to be rightly and well-understood; that craving is to be abandoned, eradicated; that nirodha (cessation) is to be realized and that the path is to be developed.
As described above, before he attains the path, the bhikkhu yogi's knowledge of the two truths, namely, the Truth of Suffering and the Truth of the Origin of Suffering, comes about by learning, and hearing from his teacher, by questioning and repeated recitation and by mastering it through penetrative reflection (the first four processes of acquiring this knowledge constitute merely studying the scriptures; grasping through penetrative reflection only amounts to insight by Vipassană meditation). The knowledge concerning the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering a nd the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering is acquired only by hearing about them. After vipassană meditation, at the moment of realization of the Ariya path, the first three truths are fully grasped by having accomplished the task of knowing rightly and well the Truth of Suffering, the task of abandoning the origin of suffering and the task of developing the path leading to the cessation of suffering. The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering is fully grasped by actual realization.
Thus, in accordance
with the commentary, initially it is sufficient to know only from
hearing that theTruth of the Cessation of Suffering and Truth of the
Path leading to Cessation of Suffering are desirable and laudable,
and to bend the mind towards them. It is clear, therefore, that no
effort is needed to contemplate particularly on these two truths.
Knowledge about the first two truths should, however, be acquired
both by hearing about them as well as by developing insight on them
The commentary on Vinaya Mahăvagga affirms also that by the words 'ye dhamma hetuppabhavă', the Venerable Assaji was teaching the five aggregates, otherwise called the Truth of Suffering. And by the words 'tesam hetum tathăgata aha', he was teaching the Truth of the Origin of Suffering. Thus, it is clear that having learnt briefly by hearing about the dukkha saccă and samudaya saccă, one has also learnt in a brief manner the Law of Dependent Origination. Those who are preaching that Vipassană meditation is not feasible unless one has mastered the law of dependent origination supported by tables and circular diagrams are, therefore, going against these words of the commentary and sub-commentary and causing great harm to patipattisăsană.
In the Cula Tanhăsaďkhăya Sutta of the Mula Pannăsa Păli Canon, we find the following regarding the brief knowledge to be acquired by learning (suta): "Oh, king of the devas, in this teaching, the bhikkhu has heard that it is not fit nor proper to hold the view that all dhammas are permanent, pleasant and self."
It means that if the bhikkhu has ever heard of the fact that the five khandhas of the năma, rupa which present themselves at the six doors of senses every time there is seeing, hearing, etc., are not proper to be regarded as permanent, pleasant, self; that they are transitory, subject to suffering and not self, then he has sufficient brief knowledge, suta maya ńăna, to proceed to engage himself in meditation.
Thus the Buddha continued: "Then that bhikkhu, who has learnt that much by hearsay, knows by contemplation and actual experience all dhammas." Then the Blessed One taught how to attain by meditation the knowledge of differentiation between năma and rupa, the nămarupapariccheda ńăna, etc. We have summarised the above thus:
1 and 2 above indicate sufficiency of brief knowledge of suta maya ńăna (to proceed to the practice of meditation). 3 shows how by noting every action of seeing, hearing, etc., at the moment of occurrence, knowledge is gained which enables one to distinguish between năma and rupa, nămarupapariccheda ńăna and to know the cause of phenomena of seeing, hearing, etc., paccayapariggaha ńăna. These two kinds of knowledge are called abhińńă pańńă, being the ńătaparińńă of the three parińńăs. By 4 is meant full knowledge of all the dhammas and insight into their nature of impermanence, suffering and non-self, in accordance with 'sabbam dhammam abhińńăya, sabbam dhammam parijănăti'. This constitutes the profound knowledge of tirana parińńă and pahăna parińńă.
The main point we wish to emphasise here is that having just learnt through hearing that all dhammas are impermanent, suffering and non-self, one has enough suta maya ńăna to proceed to endeavour for attainment of arahatta magga phala. Thus the assertion that, without a comprehensive knowledge of the law of dependent origination, meditation should not be practised, goes against this Păli text of Culatanhăsankhaya Sutta, causes demoralisation in those bent on the practice of meditation and is detrimental to the prosperity of patipatti săsană.
If, according to their proposition, meditation could be practised only after thoroughly mastering the law of dependent origination together with its explanatory circular diagrams, etc., some people who have no time nor chance to study the law of dependent origination or are slow in learning it comprehensively, are liable to lose the opportunity of gaining the path or fruition even if they are endowed with paramis (sufficient conditions and qualifications) to attain them. To cite an example, during the time of the Blessed One, one bhikkhu by the name of Culapantaka found it difficult to memorise a verse of only 45 alphabets although he tried it for four weeks. To learn the whole law of the dependent origination extensively would thus have been an impossible task for him. Yet the same bhikkhu attained Arahatship, accomplished in jhăna abhińńă, supernormal knowledge, and vision by practising for one morning only the meditation exercise prescribed by the Buddha.
We would like to take this opportunity, while giving the discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, of cautioning those good, learned persons to refrain from making assertions which may discourage and demoralise those engaged in or bent upon the practice of meditation.
If one needs to strive all alone in the practice of meditation, no doubt one needs to have learnt extensively all about the aggregates, the bases, the elements, the Truths, the faculties, and the Law of Dependent Origination. But if one is going to work under the guidance of a good, virtuous, learned and wise teacher, all that one needs to know is that all dhammas are impermanent, subject to suffering, insubstantial and non-self. It is also sufficient if he has learnt through hearing that a worldling individual is governed by two mundane truths of causal relations (cause and effect) namely, the five aggregates, which is the Truth of Suffering, and craving, which is the Truth of Origin of Suffering.
The majority of the Buddhists of Burma can be taken to be already equipped with this much knowledge; even if not, they can pick this up just before starting meditation or during the course of meditation by listening to the sermons of his meditation teacher. There should be no wavering or uncertainty on this score of suta maya ńăna. All that is required is to start practising meditation in accordance with the instructions given by the reliable, virtuous, learned and wise teacher.
As to how to launch to the practice of insight meditation, it has been described in our third discourse. To recapitulate, the practice consists of developing the path in three stages: basic, precursor, Ariyan Path. Developing them leads to Nibbăna.
the basic path, is made up of kammassakata sammă ditthi, sila
and upacăra samădhi or the appană samădhi which
we have already dealt with fully before. As to the first factor, kammassakata
sammăditthi, the majority of the Burmese Buddhists have already
been established in this faith since childhood. With regard to sila
magga, if the lay yogi is not established in it yet, he can accomplish
it by observing sđla just before taking up the practice of meditation.
The Bhikkhu yogi should purify his sila by confessional processes
if he entertains any doubt about the purity of his sila.
As for accomplishment of samădhi, the yogi should take up a samatha
exercise such as ănăpana and practise on it till attainment
of jhăna or upacăra samădhi. If time or opportunity
does not permit, the yogi can begin contemplating on the four primary
elements by means of which vipassană khanika samădhi,
which is akin to upacăra samădhi, may be attained. This samădhi
dispels the hindrances so that purification of mind may be achieved.
This is a brief description of how mula magga is established.
becomes fully established, one becomes aware with every noting
of the arising and vanishing of năma and rupa and their true nature
of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. How such awareness is
developed may be explained thus: While noting each action of rising,
falling, sitting, touching, bending, stretching, lifting, stepping
forward, moving, resting, the yogi begins to recognize the knowing
mind as distinct from the material body. This discernment is nămarupapariccheda
ńăna, knowledge of distinguishing năma from rupa,
the initial basis for the developing of vipassană ńăna. The Blessed
One had described how this knowledge may be developed by giving the
example of a ruby in Sămańńaphala Sutta of Digha Nikăya and Mahăsakuludăyi
Sutta of Majjhima Pannăsa.
Again in Visuddhimagga, we find the following description of how năma becomes evident to the observing yogi. 'For the yogi having discerned by such and such a method, the nature of rupa, then in proportion as rupa becomes quite distinct, disentangled and clear to him so the non-rupas, the nămas that have rupas as their object, becomes plain and evident of themselves, too.' Further, we find in Visuddhimagga: 'It is when supported by năma that rupa arises; it is when supported by rupa that năma arises. When năma has the desire to eat, to drink, to speak and to adopt a posture, it is rupa that eats, drinks, speaks and adopts a posture.' In these passages from Visuddhimagga, mention was made regarding enumeration of different categories of năma and rupa; only what will be actually experienced is described. It is plain, therefore, that mere reflection on different categories of năma and rupa will not result in true nămarupaparicchedańăna. True nămarupapariccheda ńăna is developed only when the knowing mind and the material object to be known could be separately recognised while observing the phenomenon of arising and vanishing of năma and rupa as it occurs.
Ability to distinguish năma, the knower from rupa, the known, constitutes sammă ditthi, the Right View. Although it may have been learnt from books that năma, the knowing mind, is separate from the material body, prior to taking up of the meditation practice and at the initial stage of the practice, the yogi cannot distinguish the knowing mind and the material body through actual experience. Only at the stage when the nămarupapariccheda ńăna is developed that the distinction between these two comes forth spontaneously. When noting the phenomenon of thinking or painful feeling as it occurs, the yogi discerns separately the thinking mind and the material object or painful feeling and location of pain on the body. This discernment of năma as distinct from rupa is knowing reality as it truly is, that is the Right View. The yogi becomes convinced then that there is only material body and the knowing mind; apart from them, there is no such thing as the living substance or entity. This is also knowing reality as it truly is, the Right View.
As the power of concentration becomes further developed, while noting rising, falling, sitting, touching etc., he comes to realize that he touches because there is the material body to touch; he sees because of eye and sight object, hears because of ear and sound, bends because of desire to bend. He realizes also that he does not know the reality because he fails to take note of the phenomenon as it occurs; he develops liking because he does not know the true nature; he develops attachment because he likes. He then knows that when he has developed attachment, he becomes engaged in activities such as doing or talking. These activities of doing and talking produce resultant effects, good resultants when the action has been wholesome, bad resultants when the action has been unwholesome. In this way he gains the knowledge of cause and effect to the extent of his previous părami attainments. This again is knowing the reality as it is, the Right View.
As his concentration becomes further strengthened during the course of noting rising, falling, sitting, touching, seeing, hearing, thinking, feeling, stiff, feeling hot, feeling painful, he discerns clearly the origination of the object as well as its dissolution, the beginning and end of each phenomenon. He becomes convinced through personal experience that every phenomenon is impermanent; it arises into being only to vanish away instantly. He realizes also that incessant arising and ceasing constitute fearful dukkha and what is not subjected to anyone's control, anyone's will is not self. This knowledge is also the Right View of knowing what reality is.
As the power of concentration gets still more developed, although the yogi is noting the acts of rising, falling, sitting, bending, stretching, lifting, moving forward, dropping, he is no longer aware of the objects in their various shapes and forms such as the body, stomach, the limbs, etc. He notices only the rapid succession of phenomena of dissolution. He perceives the swift passing away of the object of awareness as well as the noting mind and comes to vivid realization of the real nature of impermanence, fearful suffering and insubstantiality, non-self. The object of awareness passes away the instance it makes its appearance and there is no atta to fasten one's attachment onto. The knowing mind also dissolves away so fast that there is no atta, nothing to hold onto. Thus, with every noting there is developed the knowledge into the true nature of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality. All these constitute the Right View.
From the time the knowledge, regarding the distinction between năma and rupa, is developed to the stage of the development of the vipassană Right View (sammă ditthi), there has been bending of the mind toward perceiving the reality as it is. This constitutes Right Thought. There is involved, too, Right Concentration to keep the mind fixed on the right object and Right Mindfulness to be aware of it. All this while, the yogi is engaged in one of the four foundations of mindfulness: contemplation of the body postures, the feelings, the mind and mental objects. He does the contemplation with an effort which is, therefore, the Right Effort.
Thus, whenever a yogi is engaged in meditation, there are involved five paths, three from the samădhi group: sammă văyama, sammă samădhi, sammă sati, and two from the pańńă group: sammă ditthi and sammă saďkappa. These five paths are connectedly involved in each act of heedful noting, knowing. The commentary has named them the kăraka maggas, the working maggas, so to say. In addition, there are also involved the three maggas of the sila group: sammă văca, sammă kammanta, sammă ăjiva, by way of preserving the precepts intact and by way of fulfilling the abstentions.
And this is how such involvement takes place: the Vipassană yogi starts observing the precepts even before he starts meditation and keeps them pure. During the course of meditation, sila remains unpolluted, its purity is maintained. If anything, it may be said that sila gets more and more pure then.
Thus, with three
sila maggas added to the five in the previous groups, a yogi
is developing altogether eight maggas at each instance of noting and
knowing the phenomenon. Mahă Salăyatanika Sutta of Upari Pannăsa Păli
text gives the following description of how the eight maggas are developed:
"Bhikkhus, when the eye is seen as it truly is (at the instant
of noting), when visual objects, eye consciousness, visual contact
and feeling that arises due to eye contact, are seen as they truly
are, then no liking is developed for the eye, visual objects, eye
consciousness, etc. Seeing the eye, visual objects, etc., as they
truly are and has not developed liking and attachment for them but
sees only revulsion in them, the upădănakkhandhăs (which
may have arisen through failure to note) get no opportunity to materialize
and his craving for these objects also ceases, gets annihilated.
This is a brief account in the Buddha's words of how the Eightfold Noble Path is developed when the yogi discerns what should be known at the moment of seeing; the true nature of the five dhammas involved, namely, the eye, visual objects, etc. For detailed description, reference may be made to the original Mahă Salăyatanika Sutta of the Upari Pannăsa Păli text.
The commentary states that the Eightfold Noble Path becomes established at the moment of achieving the ariya magga. This may be taken as a superior form of interpretation. We would like, however, to take the view that the text meant here vipassană magga instead of the ariya magga, which is the goal to be achieved by accomplishment of the vipassană magga. This interpretation of ours will be found to be in accord with the fact that knowledge as to the true nature of the eye, visual object, eye consciousness, visual contact and feeling, comes by only through Vipassană meditation. Ariya magga, on the other hand, does not take the eye, visual object etc,. as its object; it accomplishes only the function of knowing.
In a similar manner, by taking note of the phenomena of hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking, the five dhammas which become prominent at the respective moment of occurrence, could be known and the Eightfold Path developed accordingly.
What has been
explained so far relates to involvement of the sila magga
by way of maintaining it unpolluted at the moment of Vipassană meditation.
Thus, on each occasion of noting rising, falling, sitting, touching, thinking, feeling of stiffness, feeling hot, feeling painful, hearing, seeing, etc., the right view is being developed together with the Eightfold Path. Of the four Truths, the Truth of Suffering is that which should be rightly and well understood. And the Truth of Suffering is the five aggregates of grasping, which become prominent at the six doors of senses at each instant of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing, etc. Therefore, the Truth of Suffering would be rightly and well-understood by taking note of each phenomenon at the six doors. Every time the Truth of Suffering is developed by taking note of seeing, hearing, etc., the Eightfold Path, which is the dhamma to be developed, becomes developed.
Thus, contemplation on the Truth of Suffering by taking note of seeing, hearing, etc., develops the Eightfold Path. In order to develop the Eightfold Path, the Truth of Suffering must be contemplated on by taking note of seeing, hearing, etc. The Truth of Suffering, which becomes evident by taking note of seeing, hearing, etc., during the course of vipassana meditation, pubbabhăga magga is ărammana, the object which must be rightly and well understood. Magga saccă, the Truth of the path, which must be developed to understand the Truth of Suffering, is ărammanika, which must be well-developed.
It must be carefully understood that only by contemplating on dukkha saccă the Eightfold Path is developed. And only when vipassană magga is accomplished, Nibbăna is realized.
We have to reiterate
that dukkha saccă is ărammana, the object and the
knowing path is the ărammanika. Such reiteration is necessary because
assertions are being made contrary to the teachings of the Buddha
and detrimental to the prosperity of săsana that 'contemplation
on objects of suffering such as rupa, năma, sankhăra will
result in perceiving only suffering; Nibbăna should be contemplated
on for achievement of peace, happiness'.
Having seen the true nature of impermanence, etc., of each phenomenon by taking note of them, no opportunity arises for liking or craving for these rupa năma objects. This is momentary eradication of craving, the Truth of the Origin of Suffering. Thus, with every instance of taking note, pahănapativeda (the task of gaining insight as to the eradication of the cause of suffering) is accomplished. Here, insight is gained not by observing the object; it is just knowing the fact of eradication, abandoning.
With the cessation of craving, upădăna, kamma, saďkhăra, vińńăna and năma rupa, otherwise called kilesă vatta, kamma vatta and vipăka vatta which will follow in its trail, get no opportunity to arise. Temporarily they are inhibited. This momentary Nibbăna, otherwise called nirodha, is achieved by means of vipassană. Thus vipassană ńăna is developed by the momentary cessation, nirodha, similar to realization by the ariya magga. But the achievement comes about not by direct observation of the object; it is just an accomplishment of temporary cessation at each instance of taking note. This is called sacchikiriya pativeda, gaining penetrative insight as to cessation by realizing it, knowing about it through vipassană.
With every act of observing, the Eightfold Path headed by vipassană Right View is developed inside oneself. This is bhăvanăpativeda, gaining insight as to development. This knowledge, however, does not come about by direct observation; as it is experienced personally, reflective consideration will reveal that development has taken place within oneself.
Thus, as explained above, at each instant of noting and knowing, dukkha saccă is rightly and well-understood; this is true parińńăna pativeda. Samudaya saccă is momentarily inhibited; this is pahăna pativeda (accomplishment of insight through abandonment). Momentary nirodha is realized through cessation; this is sacchikiriya pativeda. And vipassană path is developed; this is bhăvană pativeda (insight through development). Thus the four Truths are comprehended at every instance of noting: the Truth of Suffering by observing the object; samudaya, nirodha and magga are accomplished by abandoning, realization and developing.
In this way, the
vipassană magga comprehends the four Truths as they should
be comprehended and when they become fully accomplished and mature,
the ariya magga appears and Nibbăna is realized. At that
moment of path appearance, the ariya magga, headed by Right
View, is fully established. The ariya magga makes its appearance only
once. By this single appearance, it accomplishes the tasks of eradicating
the kilesas (defilements) which should be eliminated - samudaya
saccă; of understanding rightly and comprehensively the Truth
of Suffering - dukkha saccă; and also that of developing
the magga saccă. In this way, it is said that the Right View
of ariya magga comprehends the four Truths all at once.
Such non-arising of craving amounts to accomplishment of comprehension by way of abandoning. With regard to the ariya maggas, as they are experienced in the person of oneself, comprehension is accomplished by way of development. Therefore, the commentary says: 'Concerning the three truths of dukkha, samudaya and magga, comprehension is accomplished by way of full and right understanding (parińńa); by way of abandoning (pahăna); and by way of developing (bhăvană).'
As explained above, ariya magga ńăna, through knowing nirodha saccă by realizing it, accomplishes the task of comprehending the three remaining truths. Likewise, vipassană ńăna, by contemplating on and knowing dukkha saccă, accomplishes the task of comprehending the three remaining saccăs as well.
We have summarised these in the following mnemonics:
When vipassană magga, which is developed to contemplate on and know the Truth of Suffering, becomes fully strengthened, eightfold ariya magga becomes established and rushes into Nibbănic dhătu, where all sufferings connected with physical and mental sankhăra objects as well as all sufferings in connection with the sankhăra of the knowing mind, cease.
Cessation of craving
is accompanied by cessation of all sufferings of the aggregates. Therefore,
at the moment of establishment of the ariya magga, the object
of contemplation is not just the cessation of craving but the cessation
of all sufferings of the aggregates. What is taught in the teaching
'about cessation of craving' must be understood to include 'cessation
of all sufferings of the sankhăras' because only 'cessation
of all sufferings of the sankhăras' constitutes real Nibbăna,
the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. Therefore, Nibbăna has been
defined as the cessation of all sankhăras. Thus, establishment
of the ariya magga is evident only in the sense of having
arrived at the stage where all năma, rupa and sankhăras
cease to exist, become void.
What is meant here is: Although magga saccă of the Four Noble Truths is a supra-mundane magga, it cannot arise by itself without vipassană magga otherwise called pubbabhăga magga. Only after developing the vipassană magga and when vipassană ńăna is fully accomplished that the ariya magga appears. Therefore, the ariya magga together with its precursor vipassană magga, which has to be developed as an initial step, is called dukkha nirodhagămini patipadă.
We have adequately
dealt with the truth of the path. We shall accordingly terminate the