Mahasi Vipassana Meditation Method
The subject of today's Dhamma talk is Vipassana meditation method as expounded by the Most Venerable Mahasi Mahathera, Aggamahapandita U Sobhana, the founder of Mahasi Meditation Centre.
The Most Venerable Mahasi Mahathera had adopted a simple method of noting the rising and falling of the abdomen after he had studied and sifted the various discourses from all the scriptures of Buddha's Dhamma
For the easy understanding of the Dhamma by man-on-the-street, Mahathera had devised a method of questions and answers, The first question posed is "what is to be contemplated to gain Vipassana Nana?"
The word Vipassana has come into vogue recently. Everybody quoted the word "Vipassana" very widely.
The word Vipassana means noting the impermanent characteristics of phenomena. By noting thus ten kinds of Vipassana Nana is achieved. They are Sammasana Nana, Udayabbaya Nana, Bhanga Nana, Bhaya Nana, Adinava Nana, Nibbida Nana, Muncitu Kamyata Nana, Patisankha Nana, Sankharupekkha Nana and Anuloma Nana. The total of these Vipassana Nana is ten.
Then the question arises. How do you categorize Nama-Rupa Pariceheda Nana and Paccaya Pariggaha Nana, the first two Nanas rneditators experienced at the beginning of the practice? These two Nanas are to be included as Vipassana Nana because the effect of the name is reflected in the cause.
Therefore, here, the ten Nanas starting from Sammasana Nana and ending in Anulorna Nana can be counted directly as Vipassana Nanas. Nama-Rupa Pariccheda Nana and Paccaya Pariggaha Nanas are to be included into Vipassana Nana indirectly.
The alternative interpretations is in the word Vipassana in Pali, the prefix "Vi" has no direct meaning - only passana has the direct meaning of contemplation. Nama-Rupa Pariccheda Nana is the knowledge that distinguishes between mind and matter.
Paccaya Pariggaha Nana is the knowledge that distinguishes between cause and effect. Sammasana Nana is the knowledge of the impermanence, suffering and insubstantiality of mind and matter and Udayabbaya Nana is attained by perceiving the arising and passing away of all phenomena. The other way of counting is direct from Nama-Rupa pariccheda Nana to Anulorna as Vipassana Nanas.
The method of counting is not so important. The important thing is how to master the Vipassana bhavana. So the answer to the first question of "what is to be contemplated to gain Vipassana Nana" is the contemplation of (upadanakkhandha) the five groups of clinging. The simple answer to the question is contemplation of the five groups of Rupa and Nama which are liable to clinging (if not contemplated at the moment of arising). The five "Groups of upadanakkhandha" or Groups of Clinging are -
(1) Rupakkhandha. (the Corporeality group)
(2) Vedanakkhandha (the Feeling group)
(3) Sannakkhandha (the Perception group)
(4) Sankharakkhandha (the Mental-Formations group)
(5) Vinnanakkhandha (the Consciousness group)
If the meditator does not realise that we human beings consist of these five groups (of existence), the belief in an Ego-entity or Personality such as atta or I or me, men or women, etc. as real is accepted with firm determination. Therefore these five upadanakkhandhas are to be contemplated with the right view and right understanding.
How do meditators contemplate with right view? Do Meditators have to look oneself in the mirror? Or do meditators have to scrutinize the other person's body? The contemplation of ones own body is what the meditators are practising now. When meditators are doing walking meditation, noting of left step, right step or lifting, moving dropping and so forth are contemplating of one's own bodily action as instructed in Satipatthana sutta "Gacchantova Gacchamiti, Pajanati." When meditators note left step —- stepping action is rupa-upadanakkhandha, feeling of good or bad is vedana-upadanakkhandha, taking note is sanna upadanakkhandha. Making effort to take step is Sankhara-upadanakkhandha, and the knowing mind is vinnana-upadanakkhandha. These constitute contemplation of the five groups of clinging. If the meditators do not contemplate in this right view, the meditators come to think I am taking the steps, my legs are making steps knowing the movement is I, which is mere illusion. This is clinging to the five groups of upadanakkhandha. When practising sitting meditation the meditator notes "sitting, touching sitting, touching".
The sitting posture is Rupakkhandha, feeling of good or bad is vedanakkhandha, making note is sanna kkhandha, making effort to note is Sankharakkhandha and the knowing mind is Vinnanakkhandha.
When noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, the rising and falling of abdomen is Rupakkhandha, feeling good or bad is vedanakkhandha, making note is Sannakkhandha, making effort to breathe in is Sankharakkhandha, and knowing mind is vinnanakkhandha. These constitute contemplation of the five groups of clinging. The same applies to hearing, seeing, etc. Therefore, all the practices of noting left step, right step, lifting, moving, dropping, rising, falling of the abdomen, noting of hearing, seeing and so forth are contemplation of the five khandhas. This is regarded as "contemplation of the five Upadanakkhandhas with the right view".
When practising walking meditation noting left step, right step or lifting, dropping or lifting, moving, dropping is correct. When walking, if the meditators note rupa, nama, rupa, nama, etc., it is not necessary. It is wrong. Do not note as arising and passing away also. Just note the real action, the real movement at the time of occurring at the present moment. The other mental and physical phenomena are also to be noted from moment to moment.
"Why and when is the contemplation?" The first part says why do meditators contemplate on the five khandhas. Is the aim to get promotion? Is the aim to get more increase in salary? Is the aim to be healthy? The second part of the question deals with 'when do meditators have to contemplate'. Is it the past or the present or the future? The answer is -"To prevent the clinging, contemplation must be done at the time of occurring"
If meditators contemplate at the time of rising, falling, moving, seeing, hearing, eating then only the clinging can be prevented. In the Satipatthana Sutta, it is said "Kaye-Kaya nupassiviharati Atapi-Sampajano-Satima Vineyya Loke-Abhijjha Domanassam, etc. was mentioned. The meaning is — the meditator has to note the physical phenomena at the time of occurring to prevent the formation of attachment, greed or anger. The meditator has to note at the present moment of occurring to prevent.
The meditator has to note the mental phenomena at the time of occurring. If it is not noted at the time of occurring, greed, anger, and clinging to the mental phenomena will develop.
The same applies to feeling. The feeling should he noted at the time of occurring to prevent greed, anger and clinging in the feelings. The same applies to mental formations; mental formations should be noted at the time of occurring to prevent development of greed, anger, clinging, etc.
Therefore, why and when is the contemplation to be practised? is answered as "to prevent clinging, greed, anger, all mental and physical phenomena should he contemplated at the moment of occurring at the moment of arising".
"If one fails to contemplate at the moment of occurring, clinging will develop." For instance, when hearing the sound if one fails to note, the attachment to the pleasant sound may develop. If one fails to contemplate on seeing, the clinging to the beautiful sight and handsome appearance may develop. Afterwards one may assume these groups of Khandhas are good, beautiful and permanent. One also asserts that the hearing, the seeing is I, it belongs to me, etc.
To avoid such illusion one has to contemplate every occurrence of Nama-Rupa (mind and matter) so that the clinging will also disappear. So if meditator notes every mental and physical phenomena, he realizes that what arises inevitably passes away are Rupa and Nama and there will be no clinging. Therefore meditators should note every phenomena moment to moment at the time of occurring and dispel the belief in an Ego-entity or Personality.
If meditators contemplate as such they realised that everything is impermanent and full of suffering by their own insight knowledge. This does not imply that the meditator will realise the insight knowledge immediately.
After contemplating for sometime meditator will first comprehend "Sabhava Lakkhana (natural or unique characteristic) such as stiffness, tension, irritation, pain, etc. When meditators contemplate rising and falling they know the characteristics of rising and falling process.
When meditators contemplate on the vedana (the feeling or sensation) they know the characteristics of sensation. If they do not contemplate, they will not know it.
After understanding "sabhava Lakkhana" (natural or unique characteristics), then meditators will come to know "Sankhata Lakkhana" (the trio of moments) i.e. the beginning, the middle, and the end.
After knowing the "Sankhata Lakkhana" meditators will come to know "Samanna Lakkhana" common characteristics. When seeing a line of black ants from a far meditators will see only a line. When meditators observe properly they will see each insect moving one after another in a line. After close scrutiny they will find each insect has head, waist, and tail. So also in the beginning of the practice, meditators will know only the general features. When mindfulness matures meditators know the changing conditions moment to moment.
After more practice, meditators come to know arising and passing away of phenomena. This is comprehension of appearing and dissolving nature of objects. This knowledge leads to the conclusion that everything is impermanent but just arising and passing away of phenomena. Such knowledge is "Anicca Lakkhana", the knowledge that observes, explores, grasps or determines impermanence. At the same time meditators realise, all that arise and immediately pass away are not worth cherishing and relying on and are therefore Suffering. This is Dukkha Lakkhana.
Another realisation is that nothing happens in obedience to meditators will but only of its own accord. This is Anatta Lakkhana. Now one realizes that the principles of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta are the main characteristics.
The last part of the answer is "If clinging has disappeared the meditators are on the path of magga and finally realizes Nibbana"
After meditators have realised Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta they accept the fact that there is no such thing as Ego-entity but changing conditions of Nama-Rupa.
After this realisation meditators proceed with their own contemplation and find that before actual physical movement, the intention precedes the act. Before taking step, intention to take the step precedes the act. When sitting, the intention to sit precedes the act. By this the meditators come to realise the knowledge that distinguishes between cause and effect.
After knowing the knowledge of cause and effect, meditators find the disappearance of phenomena after each noting. So meditators know all phenomena dissolving by itself.
After discovering dissolving characteristic, meditators successively become aware of the knowledge of misery, wearisomeness on disgust and meditators desire for deliverance. The meditators strive for deliverance and with more deep practice achieve the knowledge that can view psychophysical phenomena with equanimity.
At this stage the meditators have to spread noting the touching points until the touching points contracted or denumerise and no physical phenomena remains to be noted. Meditators should not search for the disappearing of touching points but note the awareness as knowing, knowing. After sometime the awareness become faster and faster, and suddenly attain to the realisation of cessation of all phenomenal processes.
The Buddha said "all arising things dissolve by itself." Meditators after a long struggle of noting the arising and passing away of physical and mental phenomena come to realise the cessation and absence of the body mind sankharas or phenomenal processes. This is the arising of magga Nana.
When meditators realise the disappearance of all clinging to group of Upadanakkhandha, meditators are on the path of magga and finally realise Nibbana.
This method of Vipassana bhavana is the only way and should be stored in one's memory forever. The most Venerable Mahasi Mahathera gave instructions that Vipassana meditation should be practised whenever conditions are conducive. May I conclude this Dhamma Talk by requesting all our meditators to obey the noble instructions of the Most Venerable Mahasi Mahathera and by diligent practice of Vipassana meditation achieve the cessation of all Sankharas and attain Nibbana, the end of all sufferings.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
2. Dos and Don'ts for Meditators
The Dhamma Talk I am going to deliver today is about "Dos and Don't"s for the Meditators 'or' What to do and What not to do" The aim of practising Vipassana Meditation is to gain Nibbana. To gain this Insight Wisdom (Vipassana nana) and the status of sotapannahood, the meditator must strive hard to overcome the three fetters of
(2) Sceptical doubt and
(3) Attachment to rules and rituals before entry to the stream of Nibbana and he is called stream-winner (sotapanna).
To achieve this sotapanna status there require four conditions to be fulfilled.
The first is to have an experienced and competent teacher. The objective of Vipassana meditation is not only to he happy in one or two existences, but also to be delivered from the sufferings of all the existences along the samsara and to be free from the samsara itself. So the most important thing for the gaining of sotapannahood is to have a good and competent teacher - the meditation master, having a broader knowledge of Buddhist Scriptures and practical meditation experiences.
The second is that the meditator practising intensive meditation must listen to the instructions and the Dhamma Talks very carefully and attentively so that he may have a great help in the progress of Vipassana insight meditation. If the meditator pays serious attention to his master and his dhamma discourses, he can have faith in the practice or saddha in Pali, and cannot go astray in the erroneous way. In every serious teaching there is theory and practice. On the practical side, the meditator practises walking, sitting, etc. meditation noticing or noting all physical and mental phenomena. He must be well conversant in the theory side also. For example, according to the Buddha's teaching there are only mind and matter, and cause and effect. Reading alone cannot lead to clear understanding, but theory and practice done together will have a clear understanding of the practice as well as theory. To understand the deep Buddhist Philosophy and the philosophical aspect of the deep practice, the meditator must listen attentively to the Dhamma Talks. Then only he can grasp the Buddhist philosophy through practice which results in the quick progress of his insight knowledge.
The third is to have an honest and straight forward character, in reporting to the teacher. In the course practice, the meditator may sometimes have good noting, and sometimes bad noting. In reporting the experiences, he has to report correctly to the teacher. The meditators in some cases report the good side of things they experienced but usually fail to report plainly and frankly the bad side of things. Though the meditator may think that his sitting is not good, but in view of the teacher it may be the opposite. To achieve Vipassana nana, insight knowledge, it is not always smooth practice. At the beginning, there is bound to be some difficulty as it is a new field for most meditators. Only after some practice, there can be a little good experience due to the development of some concentration. After that there will be also bad experience, which can have pessimistic effects on the meditators for quite a long time, and in fact it becomes only good towards the end of' practice.
When the meditator encounters these difficult stages, the teacher expects that the meditator will report his bad experiences and seeks his support and encouragement. Then only there is chance to give correct advice for the development and progress of meditation practice. Hence it is very important for the meditators to report the bad side as well as the good side of his experience to the teacher very plainly, frankly and correctly.
The fourth is that the meditator must be industrious and diligent in his practice. He must be always alert and ready to notice or note with continuous effort as soon as he is awake from sleep. It is the main and primary duty of the meditator to note whatever phenomenon that occurs in his body and mind, in the sitting, in the walking, in every action he does physically and mentality. Even the minor physical movements, he has to look with awareness without missing whatsoever, moving of the hands, changing of clothes, etc. A meditator may in a hurry to try to do two things at a time. It should not be done because he may miss noting the actions and movements all in detail. In eating also, the meditator must not eat absentmindedly, that is without awareness. He must notice all the movements cautiously with awareness without missing whatsoever, in the Satipatthana Way. According to the late Most Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, even going to the toilet has to be noted. Therefore, there is nothing which should not be noted. Every physical and mental phenomenon has to be noted carefully.
If these four factors are continuously fulfilled with sharp intention by the meditators, the achievement of sotapannahood is quite easy. To help the meditators in achieving these main objectives, the late Most Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw had also laid down the rules of conduct to be followed by the meditators and also things to be avoided by them.
The first is the meditator must restrain talking, eating and sleeping. Talking is a major retarding factor in the practice of meditation. It is better in no occasion to talk while practising intensive meditation. If unavoidably necessary, he must warn himself first and limit his talk. Otherwise there can be no end of talking. Even in the talking the meditator must note the intention to talk and the subject of talking. Next the meditator must eat less. He should never over-eat. In eating the Buddha had admonished that the meditators must never eat to his stomachful, but should leave at last about four or five morsels less, and fill the stomach with some liquid like water, soup or coffee or fluid of any kind. It is a great help in the practice of meditation. So the mediiators should be very cautious of the way they eat.
Then sleeping should be as little as possible to help the practice of mediation. Out of twelve hours of the night, the holy ascetics of the older time slept only Four hours and utilized the remaining hours for the practice seriously, of course, there can be some argument that it can affect the health of the meditators. But for the meditators, even in the sitting meditation, they are in a way more or less restful and comfortable regularly breathing, sitting still, and it is more or less having a rest like sleeping, and generating energy. Some meditators may have experienced refreshment of mind and body after one good sitting as if they have awaken from a good sleep. Therefore, intensive meditation with four hours sleep is without any disadvantage or detrimental to health of the meditators, and they should not have any anxiety about having four hours sleep in their daily schedule. I would like to relate my experience to the meditators when I first practised intensive meditation. I had practised without any sleep continuously for about fifteen days. After this practical experience in this meditation, I was convinced that a fully concentrated meditation without sleep for more than ten days is not detrimental to health. Here in this Mahasi Mediation Centre, you will find many meditators lying awake during intensive meditation days.
The second is the effort, In practising intensive meditation, the meditator must have resolution, unshakeable resolution that, "I must carry on with perseverance this meditation even if my flesh and blood dry up and skin bones and sinews alone remain in my body. I will practise without stopping." This kind of steadfast resolution has to be made. When the meditator has to successfully practise Vipassana Bhavana, insight meditation, the attachment to his own body must be disregarded. if the meditator has too much affection of or attachment to his body the progress of insight knowledge will be very slow, very hard to achieve higher knowledge. On the eve of His Enlightenment night, Lord Buddha practised on the bank of Neranjara river under the Bodhi Tree.
After eating the gruel offered by the woman devotee, Bodhisatta made a firm resolution that whatever happened to his body, even if his flesh and blood dried up and only skin, bones and sinews remain he would not rise from his meditation until Buddhahood was achieved. When he practised with this unshakeable resolve, in the first watch of the night, he achieved pubbenivasanana, the divine special knowledge that can see former existences. In the middle watch of the night, he had dibbacakkhunana, the divine eye that can see everything. In the morning watch, he achieved asavakkhayanana, which achieve the extinction of all kilesa (defilements) and after that he achieved the Buddhahood and became the (Omniscient) Buddha. So, being desirous of practising the teaching of Lord Buddha, all meditators in this Mahasi Meditation Centre should follow the path trodden by Lord Buddha, observing all four main requirements.
The third is that since the meditators are more or less purified persons, they should practise satipatthana, setting forth of mindfulness, all the time. The meditators are persons fastened with full of efforts, really indulged in the mindfulness practice all the day so that not a fraction of kilesa, defilement, of any kind can attack or penetrate his mind and body. For example, if a person does not note the sound he hears, he will develop attachment to it if the sound is pleasant. Therefore the meditator should always note as instructed by the teacher so that sound stays merely as sound and it cannot become attachment, cannot arouse anger, just pass away as the sound.
So also in noting all the feelings, all the phenomena arising at the sense doors, the meditators can have no attachment, no kilesa (defilement) entering or penetrating into their mind and body. Thus the meditators are regarded here, as following the path of arahats or Buddha, as holy persons with noble heart and purity of mind. They are entitled or deserving to have all the dana food, robes and other requisites. To maintain this status, all meditators should seriously endeavour to note all physical and mental phenomena continuously all the time. If they note sometime and rest sometime, the concentration will rise up for sometime and then fall down when they rest. When the teacher comes to appraise the meditator, he knows well of the meditator. For example, there are persons with long-term illness who do not take medicine regularly. The doctors are reluctant to attend to such sick patients. So also the meditation teachers are annoyed of such meditators who are not practising meditation regularly as instructed, but off and on. So I would like to request all the meditators to be very earnestly diligent in the noting. As soon as the meditators open their eyes in the morning, they must be prepared to note everything to be aware of mental and physical phenomenon until they sleep in the night.
The fourth is that, the meditator must act as if he is a sick person because a sick person cannot move very quickly whatever he does. He walks slowly, eats very slowly, and even talks very slowly. So in the case of the meditator, if he acts very slowly in whatever he does, he can notice and note all the mental and physical phenomena all the time without any break. Some may argue, oh, we cannot note slowly as the actions are quick. It may be somewhat right at the beginning, but if you acquire the habit of noting with mindfulness after some days of meditation, you will find yourself always ready in the noting without any difficulty, and you will be quite happy to do that. Some jobs should be done very quickly according to the situation, when you are passing through the heavy traffic road, you have to go quick, otherwise you may be in danger. But when you are practising meditation in this Mahasi Meditation Centre where the mindfulness is the main essential factor, and of you are doing everything quickly you cannot note all your psycho-physical phenomena in detail. So the meditator should have to act as a sick person and try to note every action if he wishes quick progress of insight knowledge which will appear gradually and eventually.
The fifth is that, the meditator should make persistent effort to make continuous noting of the objects without any lapses. One must note form the moment one wakes up in the morning until one falls asleep at night, not only in sitting and walking sessions, but also in the daily activities. When the moment to moment concentration is sustained, the meditator will be able to develop the progressive insight knowledge successfully within a reasonable time.
To conclude the dhamma talk for today, I would like to request all meditators to follow the detail instructions of the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw and obey all the four conditions to achieve the sotapannahood (stream-winner). Following these instructions, I hope all of you meditators will come to realise Nibbana, the cessation of all sufferings in the shortest possible time and in the most easiest way.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
3. The Most Important Matter in Life
The subject of today's talk can be titled "The Most Important Matter in Life". Ordinarily, there are three kinds of business we have to face. Some are important business, some are more important and some are most important. Today's dhamma talk will be the most important business in life, or the most important task. All kinds of sentient beings have different kinds of tasks to attend to and all tasks are important to them in their own priority.
If we survey the situations the world over, some countries are trying for unification, it is their priority job because their country had been divided after the war. Some countries are engaged in the changing process of their political systems and it is a very important problem of the moment. Some countries are building up their military strength, so that they can win if there is a war. That is their important function - their priority of the moment. Some countries are trying to negotiate to enter into non-aggression pact with each other. Some countries are striving to try and uplift the economic condition of their country and it is their most important task of the moment.
In our society, the head of a family has the responsibility to provide for education, health facilities and economic well-being of their children. It is their most important task and duty. Our meditators here may have very important matters to attend to at home. In their respective views everything is important to them, but we can not define them as the most important one.
The Lord Buddha gave the definition of what is the most important business for all human beings. Buddha said "Oh monks, for a person who is pierced by a spear in his chest, the most important thing for him is to take out the spear, and get the medical attention at once". For a person whose hair is on fire, the most important thing for him is to extinguish the fire and get medical attention at once. Generally speaking these matters are for the present life.
But if we consider for future existence of the samsara for all sentient beings, the most important thing is to dispel sakkaya-ditthi. Sakkaya-ditthi means personality belief. If a family is facing health, education and economic problems, the head of the family will regard these as his most important business to solve first. But if an accident occurs at that time or somebody throws a spear that pierce his chest, then the health, education or economic problems are no longer important.
Or suppose a man has to go for a journey and it is important business for him to prepare for his trip. While he is preparing for his long journey and if he accidentally caught a fire on his head. Now his most important task of preparing the journey became a secondary for him. The most important task for him now is to extinguish the fire on his head and get medical help at once.
These are affairs of worldly things or activities of present life. Lord Buddha said the most important thing for the samsara (the cycle of being born and dying again and again) is to get rid of sakkaya-ditthi, which is the erroneous view, that there is a self or soul or atta exist all the time. Here I want to explain in detail about sakkaya-ditthi. "Sak" is one word "Kaya" is another word. "Sak" is clear. "Kaya" means a group existence of nama and rupa. Sakkaya means clear existence of nama and rupa.
If that word says clear existence, there is unclear existence also. For instance, we are calling men or human being, that being is not in clear existence. If you ask a question, - Can you call the hair a human being? Can you call the bone a human being? Can you call the flesh a human being? None can be termed as human being. So you cannot say clearly that human being is in clear existence.
There is no such things as human being if we define by way of Buddhist teaching. What we have is clear existence of nama and rupa. If we ask a question, is hair rupa or matter? Yes it is. Is bone or flesh or kidney or other human organs like heart is rupa? Yes it is rupa. The consciousness is called nama and it can be interpreted as mind. If we analyze the human beings in that sense - there is only rupa, which is physical body and nama, which is the mind.
There is only nama or rupa, but no men or women. So if we speak in the Buddhist conception, there is no self, no atta, no ego, no "I", no me, no "mine"- only mind and body or only nama and rupa. There is no self-entity, there is no individual soul. So in the definition of human beings, we cannot say I or self. We can not say this is me or mine. What we can say is that, we have mind and matter, nama and rupa.
Commonly speaking among our human society, we refer the persons as men, women, etc. for identification. In the definition of dhamma field, there is no self, nor me, nor I, but mind and matter - nama and rupa only, there is no self-entity or individual soul. In that definition of Sakkaya, it corresponds to "existing group", but does not imply any bad sense yet. Buddha and other holy persons of Ariya status have also Sakkaya. Our meditators here ourselves have sakkaya. It means that we are a group of existence of mind and matter.
When that sakkaya is combined with ditthi and the sakkaya-ditthi, becomes erroneous view of existence of self as atta, as I, as personality-belief. In fact mind and matter is only nama and rupa. It cannot be expressed as belonging to me, to us, to mine. These groups of khandha (a group of aggregates) will not obey our wishes, our command, but it is going on its own dhamma process. If this group of khandhas really belong to us we can say, don't get old, don't get sick, don't die, it must listen to our command. But this aggregate of mind and matter will not obey our command. That is why we cannot say it is our body, our soul, our self, our ego or our self-entity.
The majority of human beings do not embrace this fact but believing it as their mind and their body, they are prepared to risk any danger, and do mischievous acts, unwholesome acts for the benefit of this group of khandhas. Since they believe in the atta theory they are willing to commit unwholesome acts or deeds, thinking they are doing it for the benefit of self, sons and daughters and relatives.
So he has to suffer for the misdeeds in this present life, like getting jail sentences etc., and also in the process of the cycle of rebirths, he will have miserable life in the coming existences. The real culprit for their suffering at the present life, and miseries in the coming samsara is, sakkaya-ditthi. The erroneous view of "personality-belief. That is why Lord Buddha preached that the most important task for all human beings is to dispel this sakkaya-ditthi, the belief in atta, self, ego. To overcome and dispel this sakkaya-ditthi, Buddha had expounded in many of his discourses how to reject this erroneous view.
To reject this sakkaya-ditthi, mindfulness is the only way. The method our meditators here are practising - satipatthana vipassana. What the meditators do everyday in their meditation practice - noting of rising and falling of the abdomen, and in walking meditation lifting, pushing forward and dropping of the feet, etc. are with the main purpose of dispelling this sakkaya-ditthi.
The first step to dispel the erroneous view of the existence of self is to know clearly the difference between nama and rupa (mind and matter). In the beginning, meditators think rising and falling is me, taking steps is me, I am hearing, I am eating, I am exercising — things like that. He assumes he is doing everything. When his practice gradually matures, he comes to know there is no atta no self, no ego, no self-entity but only mind and matter.
The first thing a meditator can differentiate is when meditator takes the left step, taking of the step is the physical action (rupa) the noting of the step is mind (nama) so there is no ego, there is no self-entity but nama and rupa only. If the meditator is not conversant with the Buddhist terms he may not know this nama or rupa, but he will know by his own experience taking of the step is the physical movement, noting of it is the mind two different things. The same also applies to sitting meditation. The rising of the abdomen is physical, and the noting of movement is mental, the falling movement is physical, and noting of the movement is mental.
The rising movement occurs because when a person breathes in, the air pushes the skin of the abdomen and the movement of the abdomen is rupa and the noting mind is nama - these are two different kind of functions. The falling movement of the abdomen is the physical phenomena and noting mind is the mental phenomena.
On noting the hearing of sound, there must have three elements, the sound, the hearing consciousness, and the ear. When a meditator practises vipassana meditation by contemplating all the phenomena that comes in from the six sense doors and discovers that there is only mind and matter, he will be free from personality-belief and accept the fact that there is no atta, no ego and no soul. But the conviction is not very strong to dispel Sakkaya-ditthi altogether. Total rejection comes only when meditator attains sotapatti magga and sotapatti-phala (Path and Fruition of stream entry).
There is a story of a Brahma; (Heavenly being of the Brahma world) who approached Lord Buddha and expressed his opinion. "Lord Buddha all sentient beings should strive to reject Kama-raga that comes from five sense doors by the practice of jhana and become Brahma like us. They should act at once like a person who is pierced by a spear in his chest should take out the spear and get medical attention or like a person whose head is on fire should extinguish the fire and get medical attention at once.
And there are two ways of rejection of Kama-raga. The temporary rejection by practice of jhana (absorption) meditation, and total rejection by Anagami-magga. Rejection by jhana is not totally free from akusala, and is liable to revert to the apaya world when kusala merits expired. Total rejection of Sakkaya-ditthi by sotapatti-magga is more reliable and it closes the door to apaya-world.
Buddha felt compassion towards this Brahma because his statement was not in line with the absolute truth. Though a Brahma, he was still a puthujjana (worldling) who had not attained the state of ariya puggala yet. Being a puthujjana he is liable to get through the resultant effects of kusala and akusala deeds. At the end of the merit of his kusala deeds, he can be reborn in the Apaya-world (the four lower worlds) of the animal world, ghost-world, demon-world and hell, Only after he had rejected Sakkaya ditthi by Sotapatti-magga, as we have explained in detail, he will be free from going down to the lower levels of existence.
So Buddha replied to the Brahma, that a person who had not dispelled sakkaya-ditthi cannot expect to be enjoying the blissful existence of celestial being for ever as he had expressed. To dispel this sakkaya-ditthi totally, a person has to practise mindfulness (sati) vipassana bhavana meditation. The first nana (insight knowledge) meditators experienced at the beginning of the practice is nama-rupa pariccheda nana, the knowledge that distinguishes between mind and matter. From then on step by step, realisation of vipassana nana is achieved until sotapatti-magga is realised.
His first note of rising, falling, seeing, hearing, and left step, right step or lifting, pushing forward, dropping etc. in the walking meditation, carried a meditator to the discovery of noting mind "nama" and physical movement of the body "rupa". The discovery can be categorized into three kinds:
(1) Book knowledge
(2) Common knowledge and
(3) Practical knowledge by one's own experience.
Book knowledge is superfluous. It elaborates 28 rupas, 89 citta (mind) and 52 cetasika (mental factors), etc.
Second is what common people easily say — mind and matter is quite simple. All things including trees, forests, mountains that have no consciousness is "rupa". They say knowing consciousness is (mind) . In a way it is not wrong. But they said just what everybody hear from more educated people but it is not what he knows for himself.
Our meditators here, of course, come to know this mind and matter by their own personal experience while practising mindfulness in noting left step, right step or while sitting, rising, falling, etc. as explained above.
They come to know a pair of knowing consciousness and physical phenomenon at the moment of noting. At every moment of noting all kinds of occurrences and sensations that appear in one's six sense organs of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind, the pair of (nama and rupa) mind and matter is clearly discovered.
On this personal discovery, meditators grasp no more in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching or thinking. He accepts the absolute truth that there is no ego, no self-entity, no personality-belief and no soul but realises the impermanence, suffering and not-self nature of nama and rupa and reject Sakkaya-Ditthi, the erroneous view of personality-belief.
By dispelling Sakkaya-ditthi, he is freed. When meditator makes progress in his (or her) meditation, stage by stage meditator reaches the cessation of all physical and mental phenomenon and achieves Sotapanna, the Stream Winner.
May all our meditators sincerely practise "The Most Important Matter in Life" as preached by the Buddha and achieve Nibbana, the ultimate and absolute deliverance from all suffering and misery in the shortest time.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Contemplation of All Phenomena from Six Sense Doors
The subject of today's Dhamma Talk is "Contemplation of all phenomena from six sense doors". When a person is engaged in vipassana meditation, he has to note all kinds of occurrences and sensations that appear in one' s six sense organs. Six sense organs are Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body and Mind.
When engaged in sitting meditation, the primary object of noting is "rising and falling" of the abdomen and sitting posture and touching points. In noting touching points, a meditator has to spread the touching points from three, to five, to ten touch points, when spreading of the touch points become necessary to restrict the wandering mind.
In addition to the primary objects, the meditator has to note also all other phenomena that come to his six sense organs. Noting of rising and falling of the abdomen is the primary object and it can be regarded as staying in one's own house, when he is engaged in noting only "rising and falling". A person is at ease or at leisure when staying in his own home. When he has to learn lessons he has to go to a school, but he comes back to his home after the school. A person has to go to the market to buy edibles but he comes back to the house after buying what he needs. A person may go to the office to work but comes back to the house after the office hours.
So also, "rising and falling" is like staying in ones own house. While one is noting "rising and falling" , if one hears some sound, one has to stop noting "rising, falling" and note the sound as "hearing, hearing". When the sound goes away, one has to go back to the "rising and falling" again. And when one sees things in his vision, though he closes his eyes, one has to note "seeing, seeing". When the vision goes away, one has to go back to noting "rising and falling".
If the vision do not go away for a long time, do not stay with "seeing, seeing" for long, but ignore it, and go back to the rising and falling. When any kind of odour is scented, good or bad odour has to be noted and then go back to rising and falling. When tastes appear at the tongue, sweet or salty taste has to be noted and then go back to rising and falling. When wandering mind sets in , note "wandering, wandering" or "thinking, thinking" and then go back to rising and falling. When there are aches and pains, heat and cold in the body, note the aches and pains, heat or cold and then go back to rising and falling.
If the pain persists the meditator can change the posture, but it has to be done step by step and at the same time noting the process step by step. Please note first the intention to change, then "changing, changing", opening of eyes, movement of the hands, changing of the posture, straightening of the back, reposturing of hands, closing of the eyes and so forth, without missing any movement. Then go back to the rising and falling of the abdomen. Be certain that rising and falling of the abdomen is the primary object of meditation.
But the meditator also has to note the sight seen, the sound heard, the odour scented, the tastes tasted the body impressions felt, and the consciousness of mind object. The meditator may ask why should we note all these phenomena from six sense-doors. The aim and object of contemplation is to prevent greed, anger, etc. entering from these six sense doors. Vipassana meditation is to dispel greed, anger and delusion from oneself.
In the Satipatthana Sutta it is said: "vineyya loke abhijjha domanassam" The meaning of this Pali is greed and anger are liable to attack the loka of the Upadanakkhandha and by contemplating the phenomena only it can be dispelled and dissolved, from moment to moment. Contemplation of these phenomena is the only way to prevent greed and anger.
Greed and anger can enter only through the six sense doors. In Pali, these sense-organs are called "Dvya" which means a door. As doors are the entry points to enter a house so also greed, anger and delusion will enter into a person through the six sense-doors of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind.
Unless the doors are closed, especially at night time, the thieves, the robbers, the insects, the dogs or snakes many enter the house. To prevent such mishaps, the house doors have to be closed properly. So also the meditators must close the six sense-doors to prevent greed and anger. It means that one is to note every phenomena that comes from six sense doors.
If the meditator hears a sound he must note "hearing, hearing" By noting thus greed and anger cannot enter through the ears. If the meditator ignores noting the pleasant sound it will cause attachment, and the attachment to the sound will create greed. If the sound is unpleasant, it will create anger.
Greed and anger will induce akusala or unwholesome deeds. Akusala deeds are all those kammic volition and the mind and mental concomitants associated therewith which are accompanied either by greed (Lobha) and hate (Dosa) or merely delusion (Moha). The same with the eye-door. When the meditator sees anything, please note "seeing, seeing". The pretty sights can create greed and the ugly sights can create anger.
The same with nose-door. Unless the meditator notes the odour, the good smell will create greed and the stinking smell will cause anger. The same with eating. Unless the meditator notes the taste, good taste will create greed and bad taste will create anger. Greed and anger will cause akusala deeds, which will cause verbal and physical unwholesome acts.
Therefore, as the saying goes "prevention is better than cure", all the phenomena must be contemplated to prevent the formation of greed and anger. On seeing sights, note "seeing, seeing". If you note the visual objects thus, you may have no time to appreciate the good or the bad sight just awareness of visual object. If the meditator does not contemplate thus he will have attachment to the good visual object, then clinging sets in or anger will develop because of bad visual objects- "Ditthedittha Mattam Bhavissati." The translation of this Pali is "Visual objects when noted at the time of seeing will stay as only a visual object, creating no sensation and no attachment.
"Sute sutamattam Bhavissati." The translation of this Pali is "When sounds are noted at the time of hearing it stays only as a sound object". There is no time to create greed or anger. So no sensation, no attachment. The same with odours. If there is odour, note "smelling, smelling". There should be no time to differentiate between good or bad odour. In eating also, the meditator should note step by step of the process of eating. Thus, greed or anger will be prevented. Body impressions or tactile objects should also be noted as and when experienced. There will be no good or bad feeling.
"Mute Mutamattam Bhavissati." The translation of this text is "odour, taste and tactile object will stay as it is without creating greed or anger if the meditator notes them at the time of occurrence Mind object or consciousness also be noted at that moment as "knowing, knowing", and thus prevent the analyzing process not to create lobha, dosa, moha (greed, anger and delusion). This in Pali is "Vinnate Vinnatamattam Bhavissati."
Therefore our meditators here are to note all phenomena that strikes the six sense-doors. In other words, the meditators should not be satisfied and complacent by being able to note the rising and falling of the abdomen only. Contemplation of all arising phenomena from six sense-doors is also called Pothila Precedent.
During the time of Buddha, there was a very learned abbot by the name of Pothila Mahathera who was a renowned Teacher of Scriptures. He taught to five hundred Sanghas from eighteen different Sects of that time and was respected by his pupils One day this Pothila Mahathera went to the monastery of Lord Buddha to pay respects to the Omniscient Buddha. But Lord Buddha greeted him "Ehi Tuccha Pothila (Come! Useless Pothila), Vanda Tuccha Pothila (Bow down! Useless Pothila), Nisida Tuccha Pothila (Sit! Useless Pothila), Yahi Tuccha Pothila (Go! Useless Pothila)".
Pothila Mahathera reflected. Why Omniscient Buddha, called him "Good for nothing Pothila" even though he was teaching scriptures to eighteen Sects of Sanghas with great success. Then he realised that he was only engaged in Pariyatti, the teaching Line but totally neglected Patipatti, the practical meditation bhavana Line. So he decided to remedy his short coming and stopped his teaching lessons and taking three robes and alms-bowl, as was the custom for monks, left for a meditation centre, where Patipatti was practised, with a firm determination to strive for the attainment of Arahatship.
Yes it is the right decision. If a person wishes to learn Scriptures, it is best to go to a Pariyatti Centre, where there are teachers, books and teaching facilities. If a person wishes to practise vipassana bhavana, it is best to go to a meditation centre, where there are facilities for meditation, good meditation teachers for guidance, and accommodations and companions, conducive for the intensive meditation practice.
Pothila Mahathera went to a famous Patipatti Centre, where the Abbot- in-charge and all other monks of the centre and as well as Samaneras (novices) had attained the most noble status of Arahatship. Pothila Mahathera first went to the most senior Abbot and seek guidance in the Patipatti bhavana meditation. On seeing the famous and learned Pothila Mahathera the Senior Abbot replied, 'Bhikkhu Pothila, you are a very famous and learned monk with plenty of pupils all over the country. I dare not teach you as my student".
In a way, it was to dispel Ven. Pothila's conceit (mana), of being a learned and famous Abbot, which can be a hindrance to the practice. So Pothila Mahathera requested the second and third senior monks in succession. But they also gave the same reply that since Ven. Pothila was a learned and famous abbot, they did not dare to accept him as a student. He was so refused by all senior monks of the centre and at last he came to a young samanera, who had also attained Arahatship, though very young.
Pothila Mahathera paid due respects to young Samanera and requested the meditation method and implored the Samanera to accept him as his meditation pupil. The young Samanera also refused at the first instance showing the same reason. But Pothila Mahathera insisted and pleaded and pledged to obey his instructions to the letter. The young Samanera, wanting to test his word, showed him to a pond and asked him to go in. Pothila Mahathera at once respectfully obeyed and proceeded to the centre of the pond. As Pothila Mahathera stepped into the edge of the pond, his robes were wet up to the knees but he proceeded towards the deep water.
The young Samanera, seeing that the famous abbot was quite amenable, he decided to re-call the Abbot from the pond and accept him as his pupil. To convince Pothila Mahathera the importance of noting all phenomena that comes to the six sense-doors of human beings, he asked the senior abbot how he would catch the Iguana. which stays in a mound with six holes. Pothila Mahathera replied that he would close five holes of the mound leaving only one hole open, and catch the Iguana when it comes out from the only hole open.
The Samanera then expounded that all phenomena that comes through the five physical sense organs of eye, ear, nose, tongue and body should be contemplated by the mind consciousness. By this way with the gradual development of citta visuddhi a meditator can achieve magga phala nana, the final goal of meditators.
Pothila Mahathera understood the instructions and out of the six sense- doors he opened the only door of mind consciousness and contemplated all the phenomena that came to the live physical sense-organs of eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. By this correct meditation practice, Pothila Mahathera attained the cherished goal of Arahatship within a reasonable time. Therefore, contemplation of all phenomena from six sense-doors is also called Pothila Precedent.
May our meditators follow the example of Pothila Mahathera by contemplating the visible object, audible object, olfactory object, gustative object, tactile object and mind object in a correct way and strive for the attainment of Magga and Phala (Path and Fruition).
May all our meditators be able to practise intensively as instructed here and quickly realise the cherished goal of Nibbana in the most easiest way.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Your Body Is the Place to Search for the Dhamma
The subject of today's Dhamma Talk is "your body is the place to search for the Dhamma". This is expounded by the Lord Buddha in Anguttara Pali Text, Rohitassa Sutta. In this sutta Lord Buddha explained that a person can find the Four Noble Truths namely Dukkha Sacca,
Samudaya Sacca, Nirodha Sacca and Magga Sacca in his own body.
1. Dukkha Saccais the noble truth of suffering. Birth is suffering. Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; decay is suffering, death is suffering, separated from loved ones, living together with unloved ones, unattainable wishes, etc. are sufferings.
2. Samudaya Sacca is the noble truth of the origin of suffering. It is the craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth and bound up with lust and greed. It is the sensual craving (kama-tanha) the craving for existence (bhava tanha) the craving for non-existence or self-annihilation (vibhava-tanha). The belief in the existence of persisting ego-entity, soul or personality existing independently of those physical and mental processes that constitute life and continuing even after death through eternity-belief ([sassata-ditthi]]) that give rise to bhava-tanha. Bhava-tanha is also (Samudaya Sacca) the noble truth of the origin of suffering.
The craving for non-existence or self -annihilation (vibhava-tanha) is caused by Uccheda-ditthi. This (Uccheda-ditthi) in believing the dissolution at death encourages persons to enjoy in akusala deeds since it believes that there is no resultant effects of merits or demerits after death. These three namely Kama-tanha, bhava-tanha and vibhava-tanha cause suffering and is called Samudaya Sacca
3. Nirodha Sacca the noble truth of the extinction of suffering. This is the extinction of Dukkha Sacca and Samudaya Sacca which is realisation of Nibbana. Everybody has to strive for achievement of this goal.
4. Magga Sacca is the noble truth of the Path leading to the extinction of suffering. It is the Noble Eight Fold Path which leads to the extinction of Dukkha Sacca, Samudaya Sacca and realisation of Nirodha Sacca.
Magga Sacca are (a) Samma-Ditthi (Right view) ,
(b) Samma Sankappa (Right thought),
(c) Samma vaca (Right speech), (
d) Samma Kammanta (Right Action),
(e) Samma Ajiva (Right Livelihood),
(f) Samma Vayama (Right Effort),
(g) Samma Sati (Right Mindfulness) and
(h) Samma Samadhi (Right Concentration).
These eight factors of Magganga should be cultivated. Our meditators here by the practice of Vipassana bhavana is also cultivating these eight magganga.
When meditators practise walking meditation when he takes left step knowing correctly that he is taking left step is samma-ditthi magganga, noting mind in the step-actions is samma-sankappa, making effort to take every step-action is samma-vayama, consciousness of every action is samma-sati, awareness in serial order of noting mind and taking step repeatedly is samma-samadhi. These are five pubbabhaga maggas, when meditators take the eight precepts. Samma-vaca samma-kammanta and Samma-ajiva have been observed already.
Therefore, when a meditator practises walking meditation he cultivates eight maggangas in his noting of every step. In his noting of rising and falling of the abdomen also he is cultivating the eight maggangas from moment to moment. Repeated practice of such kind of bhavana in numerous moments is emerging oneself in the noble path of eight maggangas By such intensive practice alone, a meditator can achieve extinction of Dukkha and Samudaya Sacca and realise Nirodha Sacca which is realisation of Nibbana. Therefore the subject of our Dhamma Talk "Your body is the place to search for the Dhamma" is finding the Four Noble truth of Dukkha Sacca, Samudaya Sacca, Nirodha Sacca and Magga Sacca]]. Searching for Dhamma is the intensive contemplation of one's own mental and physical phenomenon.
In searching for the Dhamma it is very important to strike the correct method. In Buddha sasana there are three chapters namely pariyatti, patipatti and pativeda. Without pariyatti, patipatti cannot flourish and without pariyatti and patipatti, pativeda cannot be achieved. Pariyatti is like the embankment in building a pond. Patipatti is like water and Pativeda is the lotus flower. If there is no embankment, water cannot be retained and if there is no water there cannot be lotus flower.
Another example — Pariyatti is the formula of making medicine, Patipatti is the treatment and Pativeda is curing. If there is no formula there can be no treatment and if there is no treatment, there can be no cure. Therefore the correct method is the criteria to walk the right Path of Pariyatti, Patipatti and Pativeda. After finding the correct Path the second criteria is perseverance. If there is no perseverance or stamina success cannot be achieved. Intensive practice with perseverance on the right path is searching for Dhamma.
What is the body? It is the aggregates of mind and matter (nama and rupa) including the perception (Sanna). The dimension of your body is about six feet in length and ten inches in width. Finding the Dhamma is what meditators experience during contemplation. Therefore, "Your body is the place to search for the Dhamma" means the realisation of the Four Noble Truths by intensive contemplation of mental and physical phenomenon of one's own body.
The source of this. talk- "Your body is the place to search for Dhamma is Anguttara Pali Text. During Buddha's time while Buddha was residing in Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi Province, one being from Brahma World by the name of Rohitassa came to Lord Buddha. He came at midnight and being a Brahma he has a body of shining lights and after paying respects to Lord Buddha, he sat in a suitable place and put a question to Lord Buddha.
"O Lord Buddha! Can a person go on foot to the end of the universe, where there is no birth, no death, no old age and no decay". Lord Buddha replied "Rohitassa brahma, the end of the Universe where there is no old age, no decay, no death and rebirth means Nibbana and to travel to Nibbana on foot is impossible and unreachable". Here Rohitassa Brahma's question was the end of Okasa loka and Buddha's answer was the end of Sankhara Loka. But lord Buddha's answer is not contradictory to the question since the end of Sankhara loka can also be taken as the end of Okasa loka.
Rohitassa brahma said to Lord Buddha "Lord Buddha, your Venerable's answer is very surprising and it is very extraordinary, it is a very good answer that the end of the Universe meaning Nibbana is unreachable by travelling on foot. May I relate an old episode? Once upon a time, I was the son of a hunter by the name of Rohitassa who became a recluse after forsaking the family life. I was leading the life of a hermit in the heart of the forest. I was endowed with supernatural powers and I could travel instantly by supernatural powers. If I may describe my ability, I could travel around the universe during the short time as an expert archer's swift arrow passes through a palm tree shadow. I can also take big strides. My steps can be so vast that my one step can reach from East ocean bank to the West ocean bank. I had a very strong desire to travel to the end of the universe. So with the obsession of travelling to the end of the universe and endowed with the supernatural powers and my swiftness. I proceeded my journey to the end of the world. Leaving aside the time for food and toilets, I travelled for one hundred years with all the powers and swiftness at my command but without reaching the end of the Okasa loka, I died at the edge of one universe. After that journey and death, (without realising my aim) I was born into the brahma world and I am known as Rohitassa Brahma".
When he was born into the brahma world he remembered his past and came to Lord Buddha and questioned Lord Buddha if it is possible to travel to the end of Okasa loka where there is no old age, no decay no death and no rebirth, etc. to verify his own experience. So Lord Buddha's answer that the end of Sankhara loka where there is no old age, no decay, no death and no rebirth cannot be reached on foot confirmed his experience.
Buddha added that unless Nibbana is realised, there is no place where there is no old age, no decay, no death and no rebirth, so there is bound to be sufferings. Rohitassa Brahma was told that the end of all sufferings is realisation of Nibbana And the correct way to realise is to search the dhamma from one's own body. In this body alone Dukkha Sacca, Samudaya Sacca, Nirodha Sacca and Magga Sacca can be found,
Dukkha Sacca in brief is the five groups of Khandha. What our meditators here practise is Dukkha Sacca. Noting of left step, right step is Dukkha Sacca. Rising and falling of the abdomen is Dukkha Sacca, seeing and hearing is also Dukkha Sacca. Before the meditation practice a meditator does not know these as Dukkha Sacca, but regarded as sensual pleasures misled by tanha (craving). Eating seeing, hearing, etc. are regarded as pleasures by ordinary person before the practice of Vipassana bhavana. Not only seeing and hearing but all sensations from five physical sense organs are regarded as good and pleasurable and become attached to these sensations.
The attachments is Samudaya Sacca which is craving (tanha). To lead to the extinction of Dukkha Sacca and Samudaya Sacca, a meditator has to cultivate magga sacca. The practice of Vipassana bhavana is cultivating magga sacca. Every noting by a meditator is cultivating magga sacca. By persistent noting of all mental and physical phenomenon, a meditator gradually progresses in cultivating magga sacca and finally reached a stage where all physical and mental phenomena ceases to function. This is called realisation of Nibbana. Such realisation is achieved by contemplation of mental and physical phenomenon of one's own body and hence Lord Buddha had expounded "Your body is the place to search for the Dhamma" the main topic of today's dhamma talk.
Here we have to be cautious about some wrong deductions by some critics. They say, Lord Buddha had said that the Four Noble Truths of Dukkha sacca, Samudaya sacca, Nirodha sacca and Magga sacca are discovered in one' sown body. Since the Four Noble Truth is in one's own body, no effort, no practice of anything is necessary. This premiss is not correct. Buddha's teachings are deep and difficult. Some of the teachings need correct interpretation by those who are conversant with Dhamma.
For example, a forest of "Teak" trees is called "Teak" forest. But it doesn't mean teak trees alone grow in this forest or there can be no "Teak" trees in other areas. Other species may also grow in "Teak" forest. Second example, when the announcement is made that the President of a country has made appearance, it does not mean the president alone. He has his assistants, his bodyguards and the whole of his retinue. But the main important person is the President and his designation alone is declared and that includes the whole retinue of his followers. This is called "Padhana method". There is also (phalanumana method). It is by knowing the effect one can find out the cause. When a stream is suddenly flooded with great volume of water, one can deduct that there is heavy rain at the source of the stream. Flooding is the effect and raining at the source is the cause.
Third example is Attha panna method. It is taking the meaning of the sentence. By examining the statement "Devadatta" has full stomach without eating in the day time. Though he does not eat in daytime but has full stomach, it is to be deducted that he eats at night time. So also, when Lord Buddha said that the Four Noble Truths are in one's own body, it does not mean that the Four Noble Truths are in solid form in one's own body. Dukkha Sacca and Samudaya Sacca can be found in the body but magga sacca has to be cultivated. By cultivating the cause, contemplation of mental and physical phenomenon, the effect is cessation and realisation of Nibbana.
As the subject of this talk, "Your body is the place to search for the dhamma", in conclusion if a meditator wants to know the four Noble Truths of dukkha sacca, samudaya sacca, Nirodha sacca and magga sacca he has to contemplate rupa and nama of his body. By contemplating the mental and physical phenomenon of one's own body finally one can realise cessation of suffering, Nibbana.
So may all our meditators as expounded by Lord Buddha in this dhamma of "Your body is the place to search for the Dhamma" be able to contemplate on his own body and find the Four Noble Truths and realise the cessation of all suffering in the shortest possible time.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Four Types People
Today's Dhamma Talk is about "Four Types of People" as expounded by Lord Buddha to King Pasenadi Kosala of Savatthi, a province in India. Lord Buddha in his discourse explained that there are persons who go -
(1) To darkness from darkness.
(2) To brightness from darkness.
(3) To darkness from brightness.
(4) To brightness from brightness
Lord Buddha further elaborated that:
Firstly a person is born in the lower strata of life, with ugly appearance, poor health, with bodily defects such as blindness, deafness, inarticulateness, deformation, etc., and has no food to eat, no clothes to wear, no house to dwell and no medicine for health. Though born in such a miserable state he has no repentance, but indulges in unwholesome activities such as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and taking intoxicants. He fails to observe moral purification. Committing such unwholesome deeds without repentance, he is no doubt likely to be reborn in the nether worlds as in hell, in the animal world or in the ghost worlds. Such type of a person is categorized as one who goes to darkness from darkness.
Secondly, a person is born poor with bodily defects as above. Though born miserable he felt repentant and realised that due to his unwholesome activities done in the past existence, he was consequently born in such miserable state and mended his mental attitudes. He observes morality unbroken, does all wholesome activities utmost to his ability, giving meritorious danas (generosity), etc. Moreover, he practises wholesome thought, speech and actions and totally abstains from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and taking intoxicants. His status gradually rises or ascends higher and higher as one living on the ground to sitting on a chair, to riding on a horse to riding on an ornamented elephant and then on to residing in a fully decorated house. Thus a person who mends his ways understandingly is sure to achieve a better kind of existence with healthy and wealthy circumstances and even may land it the deva worlds. Such type of a person is categorized as one who goes to brightness from darkness.
Thirdly, a person born high of rich parents, endowed with good appearance, health and wealth without having to worry about food, clothing, dwelling and medicine and leads a luxurious life. Though born fortunate, he lacks morality, does not understand the benefits of wholesome thoughts, speech and actions and enjoys doing mischievous deeds such as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and taking intoxicants. Moreover, he is inconsiderate towards others and never cultivates sympathetic feelings. Committing such unwholesome activities throughout his life his status falls or descends gradually, from the dwelling in the fully decorated house to riding on an ornamented elephant, to riding on a horse, to sitting on a chair and then fallen to the ground level. Such type of a person is categorized as one who goes to darkness from brightness. He is likely to be reborn in the nether world after death.
Fourthly, a person is born high of rich parents fully endowed with all necessary requisites of life as above. Though he enjoys the higher standard of living, he is far-sighted, intelligent and realises that his present status of richness and amenities of good life is due to his wholesome activities of his previous existence. So he carries on the meritorious way of giving charity to the needy, practising wholesome thoughts, speech and actions observing morality, etc. He abstains from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and taking intoxicants, is considerate to others and always cultivates sympathetic feeling towards others. Leading such a puritanic way of life, his status ascends or rises higher and higher as one living on the ground to sitting on a chair, to riding on a horse, to riding on an ornamented elephant and then on to residing in a fully decorated house and thus he is sure to reborn in the higher deva worlds or at least in the human world at a higher influential position. Such type of a person is categorized as one who goes to brightness from brightness.
Now let me recall to our present position. Here our meditators are well-to-do in the present life with normal health, wealth and intelligence as a result of the wholesome deeds of the previous existence. And also you all are endowed with reasonably comfortable life and have a chance to be able to come to this Mahasi Meditation Centre where Satipatthana Bhavana insight meditation can be systematically studied and performed or practised under the guidance of the experienced meditation masters. Thus you all can be regarded as achieving the brightness of life, to be always in this brightness, you all should strictly adhere to wholesome activities throughout your life span. If you do indulge in both wholesome and unwholesome activities, you are not sure of your future destination whether it will be in brightness or in darkness. It is like as if you are dropping a piece of paper from a high tree - the paper can land on ground or on the surface of water or on thorny bush or in the mud. A person who is not ariya that is one who has not attained magga nana, is never secure about his future existence, Only ariya who has attained magga nana can be certain to reborn in brightness.
Lord Buddha, in the introduction of the Satipatthana Sutta, said that only meditators practising the four divisions of Satipatthana Vipassana Bhavana or insight meditation namely,
(1) Contemplation of the physical body (kayanupasanna),
(2) Contemplation of the feeling or sensation (vedananupassana),
(3) Contemplation of the mind cittanupassana),
(4) Contemplation of the mind objects or conditions (dhammanupassana).
to the full extent with the utmost desire enthusiastically will be able to gain magga nana in this very existence. Thus our meditators should endeavour with the best of your abilities to achieve the noble full-fledged path knowledge magga nana.
Therefore it is advisable that since our meditators are fortunately born during Buddha Sasana i.e. Buddha Teachings, they should endeavour their utmost effort to attain magga nana through vipassana meditation as vipassana is available only during the Buddha Sasana. After attaining magga nana, all unwholesome activities are being surmounted by themselves and you are sure to achieve brightness-human world or heavenly world and thence due to the accumulation of wholesome deeds in many forthcoming existences, you will achieve the most cherished goal of Nibbana - the cessation of all sufferings. Thus with the firm conviction, all meditators will surmount all unwholesome thoughts, speech and actions and achieve progress of insight knowledge through the stages of purification and strive hard for deliverance.
May all meditators be able to practise Satipatthana Vipassana Bhavana meditation steadfastly and continuously with perseverance and attain the perpetual peace of Nibbana in the shortest and quickest way.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
17. Dhamma Therapy for Human Illness
Today, I am going to deliver a talk entitled "Dhamma therapy for human illness". Some of the human afflictions have been reported to get cured or relieved by administering the "Dhamma Therapy". This talk is given with the hope of elucidating the Dhamma Therapy for certain disorders.
There are innumerable diseases afflicting this human work, It is said in the olden days that there are 96 major groups of diseases, out of which, 32 are phlegm-related diseases, 32 are bile-related diseases and 32 are related to wind element. Nowadays the modern scientific discoveries have added to the list the incalculable number of abominable diseases like AIDS, Malignant diseases etc.
To combat such disorders, a correspondingly varied number of both scientific and indigenous medicaments are flourishing in the market. But, unfortunately no single product has been proved to be ideally effective in any affection. That is why the Lord Buddha has admonished thus: "Bhikkhus, Disciple sons and daughters, there is no medicine that is effective like Dhamma medicine. So take the Dhamma therapy by diligently practising it". Surely, the Dhamma medicine is curative not only of the physical ailments but also those disorders caused by mental defilements or kilesas. By practising the Satipatthana vipassana bhavana or insight meditation both the physical and mental sufferings can be eradicated.
All human sufferings can be summarized as physical suffering and mental suffering. To be free from such sufferings, we should take Dhamma Therapy. Just for an example, when one is walking one should make heedful noting as left step, right step or lifting (of the foot), dropping (of the foot), or lifting, dropping. At the end of the walk note standing, standing. Then turning, turning etc. When sitting, one should make note of the rising and falling of the abdomen or all the phenomena occurring at the six sense doors as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, sensations like aches and pains and also thoughts or the wandering mind. That briefly is the Dhamma Therapy.
The Lord Buddha, on some occasions treated his disciples by administering the Dhamma Therapy. Once, the two Mahatheras, Venerable Mahakassapa and Venerable Moggallana fell ill and the Lord Buddha went to their bedside and recited the Bojjhanga Sutta - the seven factors of enlightenment. Mindfulness (Sati-sambojjhanga), investigation of the Law (Dhamma-vicaya), Energy (Viriya), Rapture (Piti), Tranquillity (Passaddhi), Concentration (Samadhi), Equanimity (Upekkha). Because they lead to enlightenment, therefore they are called factors of Enlightenment.
While heedfully listening to the Lord Buddha's recitation of Bojjhanga Sutta, the two Mahatheras contemplated on all the physical and mental phenomenas invigorating all the seven factors of enlightenment (Bojjhanga), thereby enabling them to convalesce from their illnesses.
In another time, the Lord Buddha himself was laid up in bed with some illness and the Venerable Cunda Thera was asked to recite the Bojjhanga Sutta. The Lord Buddha also completely recovered from that illness after mindfully listening and vitalizing all the seven factors of Enlightenment (Bojjhanga).
Here, three reasons can be given for the cure of diseases by listening to the Bojjhanga Sutta:
(1) The suffering due to illnesses is the resultant affect of past unwholesome deeds and that is replaced by the good deeds of listening to the Dhamma. The same mechanism as in re-establishing the continuous flow of the water in the suction pump supply pipe by expelling the entrapped blocking air by filling the pipe with some water from outside.
(2) The Lord Buddha's Dhamma is well expounded in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. It has the noble virtue of immediate personal benefit for those who practise Dhamma. To cite as an example, we had one meditator by the name of U Thein Maung, who was given a life expectancy of one month for his disease by local physicians, but lived an extended years of life by practising Satipatthana Vipassana bhavana or insight meditation.
(3) The meditator who earnestly practise the Satipatthana Vipassana bhavana or insight meditation incessantly for some time usually develop all or some of the seven factors of enlightenment ( Bojjahanga) for example, when a meditator is noting rising and falling of the abdomen in sitting meditation, whenever his mindfulness is present and undisturbed, at such a time he is developing the factor of enlightenment mindfulness or Sati Sambojihanga. While dwelling with mindfulness, he wisely investigates, examines and thinks over the law, clearly perceiving the physical object of rising and falling of the abdomen and the mental factor of noting mind, he is developing the factor of enlightenment " Investigation of the law or Dhammavicaya Sambojjhanga". Whenever his effort is firm and unshaken he is developing the factor of enlightenment "Energy" or Viriya Sambojjhanga. Then supersensuous rapture such as lightness of the body, vibration and coolness of the whole body etc. arises and he is developing the factor of enlightenment "Rapture" or Piti Sambojihanga. While enraptured in mind, his body and his mind become composed and calm. At such a time he is developing the factor of enlightenment "Tranquillity" or passaddhi sambojjhanga.
Whenever his mind is calm and his body composed his noting mind becomes fixed and synchronized with the object to be noted. As such a time he is developing the factor of enlightenment "concentration" or Samadhi Sambojjhanga.
Finally regardless of good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant whenever he contemplates with complete indifference on all the objects he is developing the factor of enlightenment "Equanimity" or Upekkha Sambojjhanga. The resultant peace and tranquillity of the mind in turn enhances the recuperation of physical disorders.
We have relevant evidences of one Japanese lady meditator, whose long suffering low back pain resulting from car accident has been completely relieved after practising Satipatthana Vipassana bhavana or insight meditation. Another Korean Bhikkhu Venerable Amarayano gained total recovery from his chronic heart disease by practising Satipatthana Vipassana bhavana or insight meditation.
So to conclude my dhamma talk I wish may you all meditators be free from all kinds of physical and mental disorders by diligent contemplation in accordance with Satipatthana Vipassana bhavana or insight meditation.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!