series of our discourse on the Dhammacakka Sutta was disrupted after
the last lecture given on the full moon day of Tazaungmon as we had
been visiting other centres. On the full moon day of Tabaung, we shall
resume our discourses on the Dhammacakka Sutta. In Part Six, we had
dealt with magga saccă. Today, we shall go on considering saccă
ńăna (the knowledge that it is the Truth), kicca ńăna
(the knowledge that a certain function with regard to this truth has
to be performed), and kata ńăna (the knowledge that that function
with regard to the Truth has been performed).
SACCÂ ŃÂNA WITH REGARD TO DUKKHA SACCÂ
"This is the ariya Truth of Suffering; or this is the Truth of Suffering which ariyas should perceive. Thus, Oh, Bhikkhus, concerning things unheard of before (by me), there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, there arose in me penetrative insight and light."
This is how knowledge that it is the truth arises with regard to the Truth of Suffering. We have enunciated in the earlier discourses the Truth of Suffering as birth is suffering, etc. We shall reiterate a little to make it clearer. The word 'This' in 'This is the Truth of Suffering' refers to various categories of suffering starting with jati (birth), and ending with upădănakkhandhas (the groups of grasping). Here, the essential item is upădănakkhandhas, which is mostly understood as learnt from books. Few are those who understand it as a personal experience, which of course is the main thing. We shall go over this again to point out how upaddanakkhandha could be understood as a personal experience.
Whatever becomes prominent at every instant of sitting, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking constitute upădănakkhandha. The Ariyas see in these objects only fearsome pain and suffering; ordinary common people view them otherwise. They do not consider them as embodiment of trouble and suffering, but as pleasant and wholesome. They think it pleasant to see beautiful sights, to hear what they want to hear and to listen to sweet, sonorous voice. Likewise, it is pleasant for them to smell sweet fragrance, to sample delicious food and to enjoy a delightful sensation of touch as the most delightful. Beings of the sensuous plane consider the sensation of touch as the most delightful. It is a delight, too, to indulge in fantasies and daydreams. It would be terrible for them, a great loss, if everything including their daydreams were to vanish all at once. As a matter of fact, all that is seen, heard, etc., are upădănakkhandhas, the Truth of Suffering. Vipassană meditation is practised in order to bring home thus Truth of Suffering, by realizing their true, fearsome nature of impermanence, etc., due to incessant arising and perishing.
As for the Blessed One, having fully accomplished the vipassană magga, he had seen the best, the noblest bliss of all, the Nibbăna, by virtue of attaining the arahatta magga ńăna. And having seen the foremost and the noblest bliss of the Nibbana, he saw in the upădănakkhandhas only fearsome pain and suffering. This perception came to him, not after hearing about it from others, not from the practices he had learnt from the ascetics Ŕlăra and Udaka. This came about by direct personal knowledge after he had developed the Noble Eightfold Path. That is the reason why he declared: "Concerning things unheard of before, there arose in me vision, etc."
With these words he professed also that he had indeed become a sammă sambuddha, the most enlightened one who had sought and found the truth by virtue of personal realization and direct knowledge, unaided by instructions or guidance from any source. Such an open profession was indeed necessary. In those days, self-mortification such as abstaining from taking food, etc., practised by Nigandas, was greatly esteemed as a holy, noble practice. The group of five bhikkhus themselves were earlier under the impression that it was so. Thus only when the Blessed One openly declared that 'he had come upon the practice and knowledge, not through hearing from others, nor through speculation, ratiocination, but by his own realization, by personal experience and direct knowledge', that his audience became convinced of his having gained supreme enlightenment, having become a true Buddha.
To gain direct intuitive knowledge without outside assistance is the exclusive domain of Enlightened Buddhas and Pacceka Buddhas only. The disciples of the Blessed One had reached such stage of realization and knowledge only by listening to the teachings of the Buddha and cultivating them through practice. Nowadays, too, such knowledge, if desired, may be acquired by developing them through practice in accordance with the teachings enshrined in suttas such as the Mahă Satipatthăna Sutta, etc. Thus, by practising as taught in these suttas, the upădănakkhandhas will be seen as they truly are, namely, mere suffering and pain. The Buddha's proclamation was intended also to provoke the group of five bhikkhus to make the effort to see the true nature of the upădănakkhandhas.
In the Buddha's profession mentioned above, the development of extraordinary knowledge was described as 'vision arose, knowledge arose, wisdom arose, penetrative insight arose, light arose', five descriptions given for a single form of knowledge. The Samyutta commentary states: "vision, knowledge, etc., are synonyms, meaning the same thing, knowledge. Because of the faculty of seeing, knowledge is termed vision; because of the faculty of knowing, it is termed knowledge; because of the faculty of knowing analytically in several ways, it is termed wisdom; because of knowing penetratively, it is termed penetrative insight; because of faculty of shedding light, it is termed light."
Magga Păli canon explains these terms similarly. The Păli word cakkhu
conveys the idea of seeing, hence vision. Various Păli words are employed
for the purpose of conveying the desired meaning or concept to different
audiences, the commentary explains. Thus, to describe the knowledge
which sees clearly as with physical eye, it is termed vision. To give
an illustration, a man who has been blind for several years regains
his eyesight through application of right medicine or operation by
an eye specialist. He did not see any thing before treatment; now
he sees everything clearly. Likewise, before the yogi has developed
vipassană ńăna or ariya magga ńăna, he has been
under the delusion that the five groups of grasping, which represent
suffering, are wholesome and pleasant, but when by constant noting,
at the moment of seeing, hearing, vipassană ńăna becoming
strengthened, the yogi realizes clearly that the phenomena of seeing,
hearing, otherwise called upădănakkhandhas, are really awesome
suffering because of their nature of incessant arising and perishing.
It is like gaining eyesight after being blind. With development of
ariya magga ńăna, his realization of the true nature of suffering
will be even sharper. Thus, because it sees clearly as if by the eye,
this knowledge is termed vision.
The yogi also can differentiate the cause from effect. He knows every fresh arising distinct from its vanishing. He knows that because of incessant arising and perishing, the aggregates are impermanent, awesome suffering; and they rise and perish of their own accord, not subjected to anyone's control. He knows clearly thus that they are not self but mere insubstantiality. His is not a vague, indistinct, blurry knowledge, just a glimmering, but a distinct, clear, definite comprehension as if observed in the palm of the hand. Such knowledge is described as knowing analytically in various ways; hence, wisdom.
In 'vijjă udapădi', vijjă is a Păli word meaning penetration. It should not be confused with the word 'vijjadhara', a person accomplished in mantras, who is described in books as having the power of flying through space. Here, vijjă denotes not a person but penetrative faculty; hence, penetrative insight.
Penetrative insight is a subtle state, hard of understanding. Here, we must relate an incident which happened about the year 1300 B.E. During a discussion we had with a presiding Sayădaw of our village, we happened to inform him that pańńă arose while taking note of the phenomenon of arising and perishing at the moment of its occurrence. The Sayădaw could not accept this kind of cognition as pańńă. He maintained that pańńă is that which is penetrative; only knowing penetratingly is pańńă. When asked how should one bring about 'knowing penetratingly', he hesitated for some moments and then pronounced, "Well, knowing penetratingly is knowing penetratingly."
'Knowing penetratingly' is derived from the Păli word pativeda, penetrating through. It is akin to 'sambodhăya, in order to know penetratingly' as explained in Part Two of our discourse. Hidden by a screen or a wall, objects cannot be seen. But when a hole is made in the screen or a window in the wall is opened, objects become visible through these openings. Likewise, this knowledge penetrates through the veil of moha (delusion). At first, under cover of delusion, what is seen, heard, etc., is not seen nor known as impermanent, suffering, egoless; they are believed to be nicca, sukha and atta being veiled by avijjă, moha, ignorance and delusion. When vipassană ńăna becomes strengthened, clear knowledge arises as if the veil of delusion has been pierced through. Such cognition is termed knowing penetratingly. the Blessed One had declared that such penetrative insight had arisen in him.
According to Patisambhidă Magga Păli text, in 'aloko udapădi, light arose'. Aloko (light) is just a term used to denote lighting up, to make bright, to illumine. Here, light does not mean just ordinary light or luminosity seen by the human eye. It refers to the knowledge which discerns all phenomena clearly, distinctly. Previously, the true nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta are not seen nor known as if they are shrouded in darkness. When vipassană ńăna and ariya magga ńăna have been developed, their true nature becomes apparent. Such cognition is, therefore, metaphorically described as 'light arose'.
This single form
of extraordinary knowledge was described in five ways: vision, knowledge,
wisdom, penetrative insight, light in order to facilitate clear understanding
on the part of various types of audience. This teaching is designed
to meet the requirements of the listeners. It is just like our employing
two or three synonyms in place of a single word so that our audience
may catch the meaning of what we say through one alternative word
or the other.
This is how knowledge had arisen as to what should be done with regard to the Ariyan Truth of Suffering. It should be carefully noted that the function to be performed with regard to this truth is to comprehend it rightly and well, to understand it completely. For the yogi who aspires to attainment of ariya path and fruition, Nibbăna, it is incumbent upon him to strive to grasp the Truth of Suffering rightly and well, that is, he should understand each of the separate constituents of this truth fully starting from jăti to upădănakkhandha
In the constituent parts of this Truth of Suffering such as jăti, etc., the essential factor is the five groups of grasping. By knowing these five groups of grasping as they really are, the task of comprehending the Truth of Suffering rightly, fully and well is accomplished. Therefore, Mahăvagga Saccă Samyutta Păli text states: 'What, Bhikkhu, is the Truth of Suffering? It should be answered that the five groups of grasping constitute the Truth of Suffering.'
We have given a detailed exposition on the five groups of grasping in the fourth section of our discourse. Whatever appears at the six doors of senses, at the time of seeing, hearing, etc., constitutes the five groups of grasping. These should become the personal experience by taking note of every phenomenon at the six doors as it occurs. Through such efforts the nature of coarseness, roughness, smoothness, softness and pathavi dhătu should be personally experienced; so also the cohesiveness, the fluidity and moistness of the ăpodhătu; the hotness, coldness and warmth of the tejodhătu and stiffness, pressure and motion of the văyodhătu should be personally experienced. All these should be separately and exactly understood through personal experience. How is this to be effected has been fully explained before. Briefly, it consists of giving concentrated attention to the sensation of touch that becomes apparent at any spot on one's body. One of the four primary elements will announce its existence then through its intrinsic natural characteristics.
After knowing the four great primary elements, when taking note of seeing, hearing, etc., the physical base on which seeing, hearing, etc., depends, the material objects of sight and sound, the mental aggregates of consciousness together with their concomitants become apparent. At each noting of the phenomenon of 'rising, falling, sitting, touching, knowing, feeling stiff, feeling hot, feeling painful, hearing, seeing', the yogi personally perceives the fresh arising followed by instant perishing of both the objects of awareness as well as the noting mind. Thus, the yogi knows definitely that (hutvă abhăvato aniccă) it is impermanent because it perishes after each arising; he knows that (udayabbhaya patipil.anatthena dukkhă) it is awesome suffering because it oppresses by incessant arising and passing away; he knows that (avasa vattanatthena anattă) it is not atta (self), amenable to control because it happens on its own accord, not subjected to one's will. Personal knowledge gained in this way by keeping watch of the phenomena of arising and vanishing and noting the characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta is knowing the Truth of Suffering comprehensively, rightly and well (parińńeyya).
The Blessed One came to the realization, without having heard from anybody that the Truth of Suffering, otherwise called the upădănakkhandha which is actually arising and vanishing, should be comprehensively, rightly and well-understood. Hence, the statement 'pubbe ananusu dhammesu cakkhum udapădi', etc. . . . concerning things unheard of before by me, vision arose, etc.! As for the disciples like Venerable Kondańńa, etc., realization came only after hearing the dhamma from the Blessed One or from the other disciples of the Buddha. In spite of definite statement in the Dhammacakka Sutta that the Truth of Suffering should be comprehensively, rightly and well apprehended (parińńeyya), some people consider it unnecessary to realize the Truth of Suffering or upădănakkhandha by taking note of the phenomenon of rising and vanishing, which is actually happening. They take it that just learning from hearsay about rupa and năma and about anicca, dukkha and anatta will serve the purpose. We can express only our sorrow and sympathy for such people.
is then the realization that the Truth of Suffering, otherwise the
upădănakkhandha should be fully, rightly and well understood
through personal observation. It is knowing what function should be
performed concerning the Truth of Suffering. This realization comes
before the attainment of the ariya magga. Even before a yogi starts
the practice of meditation, he must realize that he has to know comprehensively
the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta by taking
note when seeing, by taking note when hearing, smelling, tasting,
touching, thinking. He must be aware of this task, too, while practising
vipassană. Only then can he devote full attention to the arising and
dissolution of upădănakkhandha and develop vipassană
ńăna completely. Our disciples, Satipatthăna yogis, have accomplished
this function required by kicca ńăna since the time of taking
instructions from us on meditation procedures, having learnt then
that whatever appears at the instance of seeing, hearing, etc., should
be carefully noted. Also while taking note, even if the yogi does
not know at first what should be noted, he comes to know soon what
is to be observed. This discernment is the kicca ńăna, knowing
the function to be performed.
Being aware of the Truth of Suffering, otherwise the upădănakkhandha by taking note of seeing, hearing, etc., and constantly knowing anicca, dukkha and anatta constitutes vipassană ńăna. By vipassană ńăna alone, however, the function of parińńa, that is, the task of fully and rightly comprehending is not yet completely accomplished. Perception as nicca, sukha and atta is still possible concerning those objects which fail to be noted. It is only when vipassană ńăna is fully accomplished and ariya magga ńăna becomes developed that Nibbanic peace is experienced. And only when ariya magga ńăna becomes developed and Nibbanic peace is experienced can it be said that knowledge of anicca, dukkha and anatta is complete and lasting. This is the accomplishment of the task of fully, rightly comprehending the Truth of Suffering.
Even then the sotapatti ńăna is not yet adequate to fully accomplish this task. Only by realizing the arahatta magga ńăna, it can be said that the Truth of Suffering has been rightly and completely understood, a full hundred per cent. For the Blessed One, the task had been fully accomplished since the time of gaining arahatta path and Fruition and attainment of Enlightenment. Hence, he proclaimed that the task of fully understanding the Truth of Suffering had been completed. Vision, etc., arose; that task had been completed and nothing remained to be done.
The yogis presently engaged in the practice of meditation also have this purpose in view: to fully and rightly understand the Truth of Suffering and ultimately to complete the task of fully understanding by attaining the arahatta magga and phala. After attaining the arahatta magga and phala at last, the realization will come to them, through retrospection, that the task has been fully accomplished.
We have now dealt with all the three ńănas: saccă, kicca and kata ńăna with regard to the Truth of Suffering. Concisely:
Of the three ńănas, saccă ńăna appears while being engaged in vipassană meditation when the yogi realizes that the phenomena of origination and dissolution are mere suffering. This takes place prior to the advent of ariya magga. At the moment of ariya magga (seeing the peace of Nibbăna) too, this ńăna arises by realizing the Truth of Suffering in all the phenomena of arising and dissolution. Even after the advent of ariya magga, this ńăna is evolved by retrospection. Thus, saccă ńăna is the knowledge of the Four Truths that arises before, after and at the moment of ariya magga. Actually what is realized at the moment of ariya magga is only nirodha saccă, the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. The remaining three truths are said to have been realized by having accomplished pativeda (made up of parińńa, pahăna and bhăvană), the task of knowing by penetrative insight.
With regard to the Truth of Suffering, the moment realization dawns on the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, the function of knowing that unceasing rupa and năma are suffering is accomplished. Accordingly, the ariyas (especially the arahats) who have attained the ariya path and Fruition, know by reflection that the ceaseless rupa and năma are all suffering. Therefore, it is said that the task of penetrative insight (pativeda), knowing the nature of suffering fully and rightly, is accomplished at the moment of the path. While practising the vipassană, this knowledge about suffering arises by actually noting the phenomena of origination and dissolution. This is knowing the dukkha saccă rightly and well, otherwise called parińńa pativeda.
As for kicca ńăna, that is realization that the Truth of Suffering should be comprehended rightly and well, it must be achieved in advance of the attainment of ariya magga. Only by having the prior knowledge of what functions are to be performed that these functions could be performed for attainment of ariya magga.
In the case of the Truth of Suffering, it must be well understood at an early stage that it is necessary to perceive distinctly the nature of anicca by taking note of the phenomena of origination and dissolution which is apparent in the aggregates at the time of each occurrence. Only with this prior understanding will the necessary task of observing the phenomenon be performed, the ariya magga developed after attaining the full maturity of vipassană.
With regard to samudaya, nirodha and magga saccă, such prior knowledge as to the functions to be performed with regard to each truth is indispensable. Then only can the ariya magga be developed.
Thus, long before attainment of magga, there must be realization that the Truth of Suffering should be fully apprehended rightly and well; that samudaya should be abandoned; that the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering should be realized and that the Truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering should be developed. Knowing as to the function to be performed with regard to each truth must, therefore, precede far ahead of the advent of the magga.
that these functions have been performed comes only after the attainment
of arahatta path and Fruition through reflection that the
holy life has been lived (vusitam brahmacăriyam); what has to be done
has been done (katam karaniyam). Kata ńăna is that
knowledge which knows that what has to be done has been done.
The above concise
statements about saccă ńăna, kicca ńăna and kata ńăna
have been made in accordance with Mulatika sub-commentary on
Kathavatthu. We have adequately dealt with the three ńănas
with regard to the Truth of Suffering. We shall go on to the three
ńănas with regard to the Truth of the Origin of Suffering.
In the passage above 'This' refers to kăma tanhă, bhava tanhă and vibhava tanhă which have already been explained. How suffering originates from them is as follows: Kăma tanhă finds delight in objects of sensual pleasures which have to be searched and worked for. Some people undergo intense sufferings, to the extent of losing their lives even while in pursuit of the objects of their desires. Any attempt to curb the craving which has arisen also results in suffering and unhappiness. To look and work for things which are not easily attainable is also suffering. The task of looking after the acquired wealth and property is very onerous. Smokers and betel leaf eaters suffer difficulty when they run short of their objects of desire. People addicted to drinking and opium smoking will feel much harder under similar circumstances.
Man is born alone. While young, he leads a single life happily free from encumbrances. When he grows up, he feels the need for a companion. Instigated by kăma tanhă, he begins to look for one. When he aims for the unattainable he ends up in misery. If at last his wish is fulfilled by getting the companion he needs, the trouble soon starts when they find themselves incompatible. Even when there is concord and harmony in the marriage life, trouble appears when one of the partners happens to be struck by a serious illness. Attending to a sick person is a difficult task. In time, death comes to one of the partners, leaving the other in the throes of lamentation and suffering. It is plain that all these sufferings are rooted in tanhă.
But the majority of beings are under the delusion that this tanhă is the source of happiness. They consider it a bliss to enjoy the pleasures of various sensual objects. When tanhă is not aroused in the absence of any pleasurable objects or sensations, life becomes dull and monotonous for them. To pay visits to monasteries or temples is irksome; to listen to sermons on Vipassană meditation is utterly boring. On the other hand, entertainment shows such as cinemas provide joy, delight and merriment. Thus this tanhă is carefully nurtured by hunting for all available objects of desire. These frantic pursuits after pleasure are made in the belief that they lead to joy and happiness. People believe in this way for no other reason than ignorance which is giving them misguidance.
However, what appear to be pleasant and delightful are, in reality, awesome and horrifying because of their nature of incessant arising and perishing. There is never any surfeit of sense pleasures since tanhă is insatiable. Even after days, months and years of enjoying the pleasure, tanhă remains unsatisfied. Hence, their constant and anxious pursuits after pleasure so that their enjoyment may not be disrupted. When at last, the stock of pleasurable objects and sensations become exhausted, great dissatisfaction is endured. This is a short account of how tanhă gives rise to trouble and suffering in the present life.
But the real cause of suffering lies in the fact that this tanhă is responsible for repeated rounds of rebirths. Pleasurable sights and sounds excite delight and craving and this craving gives rise to attachment. Because of attachment, effort has to be put forth for its fulfilment. This constitutes saďkhăra, kăma bhava. Because of such activities in fulfilment of desires and because the javana consciousness of the death moment, otherwise called the abhisaďkhăra vinnana which gets its impetus from tanhă holds on to the object which appears then, rebirth consciousness arises immediately after the death consciousness. From the moment of rebirth consciousness in the new existence, it may be said that all the troubles and tribulations with regard to new life have begun. All these troubles from the moment of rebirth consciousness have their roots in tanhă. As for Arahats in whom tanhă has been eradicated, they do not encounter anymore sufferings of new existence. Thus, kăma tanhă is the real cause of sufferings such as birth, etc., the samudaya saccă.
Enthusiasts who aspire for rupabhava and arupabhava strive for attainment or rupavacara jhăna and arupavacara jhăna respectively. By virtue of such jhănic attainments, they are reborn in the realms of rupa Brahmas and arupa Brahmas. As Brahmas, they are free from sufferings of physical pains as well as mental afflictions. Their life span is also measured in terms of world cycles. From the worldly point of view, their life may be deemed as one of happiness. But when their life span is terminated, they face death and suffer the agonies of death, marana dukkha. They suffer mental distress, too, for not having the wish of immortality fulfilled. After death, too, troubles and tribulations await them in kăma existence to which they are destined. Thus, bhava tanhă, craving for existence in the Brahma world is also really the Truth of Suffering.
Craving for non-existence after death is also cause of suffering because it encourages evil deeds in this life. Instead of shrinking from evil actions the nihilists go to any length in pursuit of them wherever available and take delight in them. Because of such akusala kammas, they are reborn in the four nether worlds for many existences and undergo the woes and miseries of these existences. It is very plain, therefore, that this vibhava tanhă (craving for non-existence) arising out of the nihilist view of life is definitely the Truth of the Origin of Suffering (samudaya saccă).
The Buddha, who
had realized all these three tanhăs are the root cause of
suffering, declared how he had seen them: "The vision, which
saw that this is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, had arisen
in me." Knowing this is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering
is saccă ńăna. The saccă ńăna which knows this truth
arises both before and after the advent of ariya magga. At the moment
of the Path, the function of knowing the truth is accomplished, too,
by way of relinquishing or abandoning (pahăna pativeda).
To summarise, that which knows the four Truths before, after and at
the moment of magga is saccă ńăna.
If freedom from suffering is desired, the origin of suffering must be eliminated. For example, in order to effect cure of a disease, the root cause of the malaise must be eradicated by administration of suitable medicine. Burmese physicians diagnose the cause of a disease in terms of disorders in the blood, wind, bile and phlegm, climate, food, etc. Western physicians trace the cause to various diseases carrying germs. When such causes of disease have been duly diagnosed and then eradicated through proper medical treatment, complete cure is effected of the disease. Likewise, samsăric suffering of repeated rebirths in the rounds of existence may be avoided by removing its root cause, which is tanhă, the Truth of the Origin of Suffering. Therefore, this truth is regarded as that which should be given up, pahătabba dhamma.
How is abandonment to be effected? It is most essential to know it. 'Let tanhă not appear, let it not arise; I shall keep my mind as it is, free from tanhă. I shall have only tanhă-free mind.' Will it be possible to maintain such a state of mind? People believing in the possibility of doing so should actually try to attain this state of mind and see how long they can maintain it. Will not the married man be harassed by thoughts of love and tenderness for his wife and erotic emotion that demand fulfilment? Will there not arise craving for a smoke or a chew of the betel leaves, or for relishing a good meal? And how about the yearning for possession of wealth and property? These questions cannot be easily disposed of by brushing them aside, arguing that they are concerned with mere trifles, just natural and routine affairs of no importance. We have to suffer the arising of such tanhăs only because we cannot subdue them. But the fact remains and this should be seriously borne in mind that tanhă being a pahătabba dhamma should be eradicated when possible.
Actually, there are three kinds of tanhă which need elimination:
Of the three, the craving that motivates physical and vocal deeds is classified as vitikkhama kilesă (the defilements which can be eradicated by sila). A person who is preserving the precepts meticulously does not steel anything belonging to others, even if he feels the want for it; does not commit sexual misconduct (one who observes the brahmă cariyă precept does not indulge in any sexual practice); does not lie and abstains from intoxicating drinks or drugs. In this way, he keeps himself from vitakkama kilesă. This is how craving is eliminated by means of sila.
Craving which manifest itself in imaginative delights and pleasures is classified as pariyutthana kilesă (the defilements which can be eradicated by samadhi, the concentrated mind). If one is constantly engaged in the practice of one of the meditation subjects such as ănăpăna, one keeps oneself free from thoughts of desire for and imagining about sensuous objects. Unless thus absorbed in one of the meditation exercises, if the mind were left free on its own, it would engage itself in thinking about desirable sense-objects, yearning mostly for sensual pleasure. If someone believes that he could keep his mind just as it is free from craving for sensual pleasures, he does not know his own mind.
As a matter of fact, even while occupied incessantly with meditation, before the power of concentration gets strengthened, kăma vitakka (thought of sensuous pleasures) keep on coming up. Only when jhănic concentration is attained through practice of concentration meditation that thoughts of grosser types of sensual pleasures are brought to cessation, but even then, only for the duration of jhănic absorption. This is how samădhi removes the craving for sensual pleasures by vikkhambhana pahăna, putting it away at a distance.
Bhava tanhă (craving for existence) and vibhava tanhă (craving for non-existence) persist even in the person of jhănic attainments. They remain with some of the brahmas, too. Therefore, bhava tanhă and vibhava tanhă cannot be eradicated by samatha concentration. It goes without saying then that ordinary persons uninitiated in concentration and meditation are not free from the craving for their own life and existence. However, such uninstructed people are not aware that their delight in life and existence is tanhă (craving) or kilesă (defilement). They even teach the extreme wrong view that 'mind can be kept as it is free from defilments. And mind free from kilesă is Nibbăna.' This is definitely going against the teaching of the Buddha.
The craving which has not actually arisen yet, but will appear when right conditions prevail is called anusaya kilesă (latent defilements). This is of two kinds:
There may be objects which manifest themselves at the moment of seeing or hearing but are missed to be noted then as impermanent, etc. On retrospection, however, kilesă can arise in connection with them. Such kilesă is known as ărammana nusaya. Arammana nusaya kilesă can be put away by vipassană ńăna, but vipassană can remove only the kilesă that may arise in the objects which are being contemplated on. The potential defilements remain unaffected in the objects which escape contemplation.
The kilesă which
has not yet been eradicated by ariya magga and is awaiting
an opportune moment to arise in the continuum of aggregates of a person
is known as santana nusaya. This defilement can be removed
only by means of the ariya magga ńăna. It is to facilitate
elimination of the santananusaya by ariya magga
that vipassană bhăvană has to be developed.
Again, let us take the case of some people who have had implicit faith in the Triple Gem, namely, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. But when influenced by teachers of other religions, they begin to entertain doubts (vicikicchă) about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Some even change their faith to embrace wrong views (micchăditthi). Doubts and wrong views arise in them not because of mental retentiveness but because they have been lying in them all the time; they have not been removed yet by the ariya magga.
The Ariyas of the Buddha's time had their doubts and wrong views eliminated by sotăpanna magga so that no teacher, not even Sakka or Mara could influence them to embrace wrong views, to entertain doubts about the Triple Gem. It was because the dormant defilements in them, santăna nusaya, had been removed by the ariya magga.
The good people who have this opportunity of hearing the discourse on the Dhammacakka should definitely bear in mind that there lies lurking in them defilements just waiting for an opportune moment to arise and that this craving which is the real cause of suffering should be eliminated by ariya magga through developing vipassană bhăvană.
Knowing that this
is the dhamma which should be eradicated is kicca ńăna
with regard to the Truth of the Origin of Suffering. This kicca
ńăna which knows what should be done with respect to samudaya
saccă should be developed prior to the advent of the ariya
magga. Thus, kicca ńăna is advanced knowledge of what
should be known, what should be abandoned, what should be realized
and what should be developed. To the Blessed One, this kicca ńăna
had appeared without having heard from anyone. Therefore, he admitted:
"This is the Noble Truth of the origin of suffering which should
be abandoned. Thus, Oh, Bhikkhus, concerning things unheard of before,
there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom; there arose in me penetrative
insight and light." Then the Blessed One continued to explain
how he had accomplished the task of abandoning.
This is an account of how retrospection on the completion of the task of abandonment took place after he had abandoned what should be abandoned, the craving otherwise called samudaya saccă. This knowledge of completion of the task that should be performed is known as the kata ńăna.
What is specially noteworthy in respect of samudaya saccă is that four ariya maggas cognize Nibbăna by realizing it. At the first instance of such cognition, craving which will lead to the states of woe and misery becomes eliminated; at the second instance, grosser forms of craving for sensuous pleasure (kăma tanhă) get abolished. On the third occasion, the subtler forms of this kăma tanhă disappear. All the remaining tanhăs are completely eradicated when Nibbăna is cognized for the fourth time. Such eradication of tanhă is termed knowing samudaya saccă by the four ariya maggas or pahăna pativeda (penetrative insight by virtue of abandoning). The act of abandoning or eradicating constitutes knowing what should be known by the ariya magga. Thus, samudaya saccă is that which should be abandoned. This abandonment is pahăna pativeda.
This kata ńăna is also quite important. The goal of practising meditation is really the removal of defilements together with this tanhă. Attainment of higher knowledge, accomplishment of what should be done, is complete and assured only when this tanhă and defilements are eradicated. It is essential to scrutinize oneself to see whether one is really free of this tanhă and defilements. Even if the lowest stage of attainment (sotăpanna) is claimed, craving which prompts akusala kamma that leads to the nether worlds should have been removed; one should be free also of craving which may instigate infringement of the five precepts. The delight and pleasure accompanied by craving for the wrong view that there is a living entity, a self, should have been discarded. Only when one is fully liberated of all these cravings, the claim of sotăpanna attainment may be sustained; otherwise it should be observed that no claim for any attainment is admissible.
We have fully
dealt with the three ńănas, saccă, kicca and kata, with
regard to the samudaya saccă. We shall go on considering
the three ńănas concerning the nirodha saccă.
'This' in the above passage of the text refers to 'the complete cessation of tanhă, otherwise called samudaya saccă', which had already been explained. When tanhă is abolished, all sufferings of the năma, rupa, saďkhăras cease. The Buddha said that the saccă ńăna, which knows that this cessation (nirodha saccă) is the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, had arisen in him. this saccă ńăna arises before and after ariya magga and is realized at the moment of the path.
As to how this
knowledge arises before the path, the disciples acquire this ńăna
through learning from others, that is, on hearsay. The Blessed One,
however, had gained this knowledge by his own intuition even prior
to attainment of sotăpatti magga. Thus, he said: "Concerning
things unheard of before, there arose in me vision, etc." At
the moment of ariya magga, this saccă ńăna is the same as
ariya magga ńăna which cognizes Nibbăna by realization.
This ńăna (knowledge) which knows that nirodha saccă, namely the nibbănam, the cessation of tanhă, is that which should be realized. It is known as kicca ńăna since it is the knowledge that knows what function is to be performed with respect to nirodha saccă.
And this is how realization takes place: at the moment of full and firm establishment of sankhărupekkha ńăna, while observing one of the phenomena of origination and dissolution, the pace of cognition gets faster and faster until the sankhăra objects under contemplation as well as the knowing consciousness plunge into a state of cessation where all sankhăra sufferings come to an end. At the time of realizing the cessation of all conditioned things, tanhăs also come to a cessation. Thus, cessation of tanhă is termed nirodha saccă, which is cognized by ariya magga through realization. Such cognition is known as sacchikiriya pativeda (penetrative insight by realization).
Nirodha saccă is the truth to be realized. Such realization is known as sacchikiriya pativeda.
The purpose of
taking note of every instance of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing
is to accomplish the task of sacchikiriya pativeda through realising
nirodha saccă. The Buddha had accomplished the function of
sacchikiriya pativeda by realization of Nibbăna through arahatta
magga phala on the 'unconquered throne' at the foot of the Bo
tree. He continued to recount how he had developed the kata ńăna
which retrospected on the completion of the task, as follows.
This is an account
of how retrospection on the completion of the task took place after
he had realized nirodha saccă by means of arahatta magga
phala ńăna. We shall deal next with the three ńănas in respect
of magga ńăna.
This saccă has a long name but the commentaries shorten it as just magga saccă, the Truth of the Path. We shall use the short title in our discourse.
Knowing that the Noble Eightfold Path is the practice, the Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering, peace of Nibbăna, is called saccă ńăna. This saccă ńăna arises before, after and at the moment of ariya magga.
The disciples of the Buddha, who had not yet attained the ariya magga, learnt of this magga saccă only from hearing about it. Common worldlings have not yet realized, as personal experience, the ariya magga saccă. The commentaries say: 'Magga saccă is a dhamma to be desired, to be aspired after and to be appreciated'. Learning thus through hearing, the mind should be bent towards it. The preliminary task with respect to magga saccă is accomplished just by bending the mind towards it. Likewise, with regard to nirodha saccă, otherwise called Nibbană which common worldlings cannot perceive, the commentaries say that it requires only to bend the mind towards it as dhamma to be desired, to aspire after, to be appreciated, by which act the preliminary function to be performed for nirodha saccă is accomplished.
It must, therefore, be remembered that ariya magga saccă need not be thought of and contemplated on; likewise Nibbăna needs no prior contemplation nor thinking about. As for the Buddha, just as he had previously arrived at the knowledge of the nirodha saccă through intuitive insight, he also gained knowledge of this magga saccă through intuition. That is why he said in admission that 'concerning things unheard of before, there arose in me vision, etc.'
At the moment of ariya magga, only nirodha saccă, otherwise peace of Nibbăna, is perceived by realization. Magga dhammas realized in this way actually appear in the person and as such the task of developing them in the person is accomplished. This is known as bhăvană pativeda (knowledge by development). Thus magga saccă should be developed in the person and this development is bhăvană pativeda.
What is meant
here is that when ariya magga appears in the person, it amounts
to seeing the ariya magga; it also means the task of knowing
it is accomplished at the same time. As the ariya magga has
been developed in the person, retrospection will reveal it very clearly.
However, it is not possible to develop the ariya magga straightaway.
One must begin by developing the pubbabhăga magga as the
first step. For this reason, vipassană also is to be regarded as a
correct practice that leads to nirodha (cessation). We have already
mentioned above in Part VI how Sammonavinodani commentary also recommends
that vipassană should be regarded as such.
Knowing that magga saccă is a dhamma that should be developed within oneself is called kicca ńăna; it is the knowledge that knows what should be done with respect to magga saccă. What should be done with respect to dukkha saccă? It should be fully and rightly comprehended. What should be done with respect to magga saccă?
It should be developed within one's own self. This must be definitely remembered.
That magga saccă is the dhamma that should be developed was taught for the first time by the Buddha in this Dhammacakka Sutta. Thus to develop magga is to practise for the attainment of Nibbăna in accordance with the wishes of the Blessed One. However, the practice cannot be started with development of magga saccă straightaway. One must start with pubbabhăga magga, otherwise called vipassană magga. In order to develop ariya magga saccă then, one must begin with developing vipassană magga.
In order to develop this pubbabhăga or vipassană magga, dukkha saccă must be contemplated on. Dukkha saccă means upădănakkhandha which has been extensively explained in Part IV. Contemplating on the aggregates that appear at every instant of their arising, there is developed first the knowledge of distinction between the object of awareness and the knowing mind. This is followed by understanding the law of cause and effect. As one proceeds, one comes to know the nature of flux, the constant arising and passing away of năma and rupa. Since it arises just to perish the next moment, it is unstable, impermanent, pure suffering; not self, because it arises and vanishes on its own accord. Personal realization of these realities is sammăditthi. It has been explained before that when sammăditthi is developed, sammăsankappa and other maggas are also developed.
How to develop these maggas has also been described before.
Briefly, it consists first in noting any of the sensations of touch one experiences. In order to simplify the practice, we have recommended to start with contemplation of the phenomenon of rising and falling of the abdomen. While in the process of observing the rising and falling of the abdomen, the yogi may happen to start thinking about something else. He should make a note of such thoughts, too, as they arise. He should also note the painful sensations such as stiffness, feeling hot, feeling painful, itching, etc., as they arise. Changing of bodily movements should also be noted as they occur. Attention should be also be given to any extraordinary thing, seen or heard. Thus, while observing every phenomenon, at every instant of noting, knowledge of reality as it is, sammăditthi and vipassană maggas will be developed. When vipassană becomes fully established, the Eightfold ariya magga is evolved. Thus, contemplating on the actual phenomenon of the aggregates (the dukkha saccă), amounts to development of the Eightfold Noble Path. To recapitulate:
Some people had been under the wrong impression that the purpose is served by acquiring a book-knowledge of the phenomena of the aggregates and the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta, etc. Only when they have practised meditation in accordance with Satipatthăna meditation and gained extraordinary experiences, they begin to see their mistakes. They openly state their realization then that unless they engage themselves in the actual practice of watching the phenomena of seeing, hearing, etc., at the instant of their occurrence, the parińńa kiccă (the function of fully and rightly understanding the dukkha saccă) remains unaccomplished; the task of developing the Eightfold magga also remains uncompleted. These are the admissions made by learned people well-versed in the scriptures.
They have, by personal experience, come to understand the right way for higher attainments.
The Buddha's teaching
embodied in this Dhammacakka Sutta 'that Eightfold Path is the dhamma
which has to be developed by contemplating on the phenomena of năma
and rupa at the moment of their occurrence', should be noted
with all seriousness. It should be carefully and steadfastly remembered
too that knowing the function concerning the magga saccă
is kicca ńăna; that this ńăna should be acquired from learning
by hearing prior to the advent of ariya magga; that only
then could vipassană magga be developed by observing the
actual phenomena of upădănakkhandha or dukkha saccă
at the time of their occurrences; that only by developing the vipassană
magga, the ariya magga (otherwise called bhăvetabba
magga saccă) could be developed and Nibbăna realized.
This is the admission by the Blessed One of how kata ńăna had arisen through retrospection of having accomplished the development of magga sacca till attainment of arahatta magga. The three ńănas, namely, saccă, kicca and kata with respect to the four Truths have now been completely explained in twelve ways, that is fourfold of three ńănas.
these twelve ways:
Dukkha saccă should be rightly and fully comprehended; such
comprehension is known as parińńa pativeda.
At the moment of magga, only nirodha saccă is perceived through realization. The remaining three truths are perceived through completion of the required tasks by parińńa pativeda, pahăna pativeda, and bhăvană pativeda respectively. Therefore, the commentary says: 'The three truths are known by the completion of the tasks and nirodha by realization.'
When magga sees one of the four truths.
Just as with the ariya magga, at the moment of practising vipassană too, by observing dukkha saccă alone as the object, the task of knowing the remaining three saccăs is also done. It happens in this manner: The sense object which is being perceived through meditation as embodiment of anicca, dukkha, anatta cannot arouse tanhă which would take delight in it under the delusion of anicca, sukha, atta. This is tadanga pahăna pativeda, the temporary abandonment of tanhă. The avijjă (delusion) which would misapprehend the observed object as nicca, sukha and atta, as well as the sankhăra, vinnana, etc., gets no opportunity to arise and ceases consequently. This is realization through temporary cessation, tadanga nirodha. Vipassană magga which perceives everything as anicca, dukkha, anatta is being developed at every instant of awareness. This is bhăvană pativeda. Thus, while practising vipassană meditation by knowing dukkha saccă through contemplation, the remaining three truths are perceived by completion of the tasks of pahăna, sacchikiriya and bhăvană pativedas. Thus, it may be said that all four truths are perceived at the same time.
We have come to the conclusion of the consideration of twelve ways of perceiving the four truths in four folds of three ńănas. We shall stop here today.
May you all good people present 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 fully and rightly understand the Truth of Suffering (dukkha saccă), etc., by contemplating on the phenomena of hearing, seeing, etc., and, through whatever path and fruition you have chosen, achieve speedy realization of Nibbăna, the end of sufferings.