Translated from the Thai by Santikaro Bhikkhu
Thiện Nhựt phỏng dịch
Source-Nguồn: dhammatalks.net, ftp.budaedu.org, budsas.org, thuvienhoasen.org
Today we will discuss the fourth tetrad, the final four steps. This tetrad studies and examines Dhamma, or Truth, in particular. You will recall that the first tetrad studied the breath and the body. The second tetrad studied those feelings which result from the calming of the body-conditioner, the breathing. There we studied the mind's feelings, not yet the mind (citta) itself. We studied the mind-conditioners until we learned all about the concocting and conditioning of the citta. Then we could control the citta-sankhara, the mind-conditioners. The third tetrad studied the citta and the control of it. We studied, developed, trained, and practiced various ways of controlling the mind. Now, in the fourth tetrad, once this well-trained mind has been brought under control, we use it to study Dhamma, the Truth of Nature. Please observe how the four tetrads, are interconnected: first the kaya-sankhara, then the citta-sankhara, then the citta itself, and then finally Dhamma, the facts (sacca-dhamma) of nature (dhamma-jati). (153)
The reasoning here is simple. Once the mind is under our power and within our control, we are able to use this type of mind to work. From practicing the third tetrad, from the ability to concentrate the mind, there is a lot of kammaniyo, readiness or activeness. The mind is fit and ready to do its duties. In the Pali another word is used in this context - mudu (gentle). Before citta was hard and stiff, now it is gentle and supple. The mind is now very sensitive and quick, in a condition that is ready to be used. Consequently, we use it to do the work of the fourth tetrad, where the very first duty is to contemplate impermanence. (154)
THE IMPERMANENCE OF ANAPANASATI
A fundamental principle of this entire practice is to use things already existing within us as the objects to be studied and practiced. We prefer not to use external objects. Once we understand internals well, we can extrapolate to externals. Do not forget this important principle: we must examine things that exist internally. Therefore, for this step of our practice, the step of aniccanupassi (contemplating impermanence), we will return to the beginning step. First, we contemplate just the breath until we see that it is impermanent. We observe that the breath changes and becomes long. It is impermanent. The longness is impermanent, always changing, getting longer or getting shorter. The shortness is impermanent, too.
The various conditions and characteristics of the breath are impermanent. The breath's effect on the body is impermanent. Next, observe that both bodies - the breath-body and the flesh-body - are impermanent. Then, watch the calming of the breath and impermanence is ever more obvious. The breath changes, from coarseness to calmness, but even that calmness is impermanent. It keeps changing into other states. Contemplate each step one at a time until each phase is seen to be impermanent.
Eventually the feelings of piti and sukha arise. Watch them one by one. See impermanence in each and every aspect of these vedana. Contemplate the impermanence of the conditioning of the mind by the feelings. The calming of these feelings is something impermanent, is impermanence. Next we watch the citta itself, it too is impermanent. The gladdening and refreshing of the mind as it changes to delight and joyfulness is impermanent. Contemplate the impermanence of this freshness and delight, of its various conditions and flavors. Concentration is impermanent, it changes to non-concentration. The activeness of samadhi is impermanent. Impermanence manifests right there in that activeness. Even the liberating of the mind is only a temporary liberation here, and thus also impermanent. Realize impermanence in each and every step, in each and every one of the interconnected points, phases, and aspects of this practice. Directly experience impermanence in everything. Redo each of the steps. Make the impermanence of each step absolutely clear, undoubtedly obvious, completely certain. This is how we contemplate the impermanence of all these passing phenomena collectively known as sankhara. In step thirteen, we contemplate the impermanence of the sankhara (conditioned things, concoctions). (155)
MORE TO IT THAN JUST IMPERMANENCE
Now, observe that in the realization of impermanence there is the realization of many other things simultaneously. When impermanence is truly seen, this characteristic of impermanence is also the characteristic of dukkham, namely, it is ugly and unbearable. We will see the characteristic of not-self in it, also. Because these things are always changing, impermanent, unsatisfactory, and beyond our control, we realize anatta, also. Then we will see that they are void of selfhood, which is sunnata. We will see that they are just thus like that. Impermanence is just thus, just like that, thusness. And so, tathata is seen as well.
Please understand that the realizations of these truths are interrelated. From seeing impermanence, we see unsatisfactoriness, see anatta, see sunnata; see tathata, and see idappaccayata (conditionality, the law of cause and effect), also. Each continues into the next. A complete realization of impermanence must include unsatisfactoriness, not-self, voidness, thusness, and the law of conditionality. When all of these are seen, then impermanence is seen completely in the most profound way. This is how we realize fully the impermanence of the sankhara.
We have already explained sankhara and we have practiced it, too. Remember that here are three meanings to this word. Various causes, conditions, arid ingredient) must be concocted and compounded in order to use the term "sankhara." The characteristic of the conditioners is impermanence. The characteristic of the things conditioned is impermanence. The characteristic of the activity or process of conditioning is impermanence. To see all three aspects like this is to realize impermanence in the most profound and complete way. (156)
Merely seeing aniccam by itself rather than seeing it completely in all of its characteristics is nothing-extraordinary. To be complete the realization must encompass dukkham, anatta, sunnata tathata, and idappaccayata. To see aniccam alone, in an incomplete way that does not include dukkham and anatta is neither profound, nor sufficient to solve our problems. Thus, the words "realizing aniccam" in this context must encompass a realization as deep as dukkham, anatta, sunnata, tathata, and idappaccayata, also.
There is a story which ought to be of interest to you. In The Basket of Discourses (suttanta-pitaka) of the Pali Canon, The Buddha mentioned that there was a religious teacher at that time named Araka who taught about impermanence as much as the Buddha did, but went no further and said nothing about dukkham and anatta. This is interesting because at the time of the Buddha there lived a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus. The Buddha said that Araka taught in a distant land where he taught about impermanence or flux. The Blessed One probably meant Heraclitus; whose central teaching was panta rhei (Greek, "everything flows" or "all is flux"). He taught only impermanence, however, and was unable to extend this insight to include dukkham, anatta, sunnata, and tathata.
Thus, it was not a successful teaching. Otherwise, another Buddha would have arisen right then and there. Knowledge about impermanence was well-spread both within
So there is a good chance that the Araka mentioned by the Buddha is Heraclitus. Anybody who is interested can look it up in any history of Greek philosophy. Anyway, the essential point is that seeing aniccam alone is not enough. We must see aniccam such that it shines onto dukkham, anatta, sunnata, and tathata – the entire string of realization. The short phrase aniccanupassi (contemplating impermanence) includes the realization of unsatisfactoriness, not-self, voidness, thusness and conditionality as well. (157)
THE DISSOLVING OF ATTACHMENT
Now, observe - study closely until you see it - that the realization of aniccam dissolves upadana, dissolves attachment. This is crucial. Realizing aniccam dissolves attachment because it is the realization of the punishment, pain, and wickedness of that attachment. Upadana dissolves until less and less remains. Such is the result of realizing impermanence. It makes us weary of and bored with the things we continue attaching to and all the things we ever attached to. Upadana then begins to dissolve. This is the result of truly seeing impermanence. (158)
Now we come to the second step of this tetrad, or step fourteen overall, contemplating fading away (viraganupassi). This had begun to be observed already in step thirteen when the contemplation of impermanence led to the dissolving of attachment. Now we focus upon and scrutinize the fact of dissolving or viraga. "Vi" means "not" or "not having." "Raga" is another name for attachment. "Viraga" means "without attachment" Watching attachment dissolve is like watching the stains in a cloth fade away. The many colored stains slowly fade away, bleached out by sunlight until the cloth is white. This is a material example of viraga which helps to explain the mental fading away of attachment. Upadana dissolves under the light of seeing things as they truly are - aniccam, dukkham, anatta, sunnata, and tathata. We know that attachment, is lessening when we are even-minded toward sankhara, namely, all things which we once attached to. Now we are unprejudiced toward them all, which is to realize viraga, the fading away of attachment. Contemplate this with every inhalation and exhalation. This is how to practice step fourteen. (159)
The result of this fading away of attachment is the even-minded stillness of non-attachment. We can observe this quite easily, for example, as our erotic love for things which we once loved begins to fade. Anger toward past, or even present, objects of our anger dissolves away. We are no longer afraid of the things we once feared. We are gradually less and less afraid until fear disappears. The same is true for hatred, envy, jealousy, worry, anxiety, longing after the past, and so on. Each of these indicators lessens and shrinks until the mind is able to keep still and silent. You may have trouble with the phrase "keep still and silent." It means simply to not attach, not cling, not regard anything as "I" and "my." Contemplate impermanence until the attachment in the things we attach to dissolves, until we can remain still, silent, and even-minded. This is how to practice in this step. (160)
THE QUENCHING OF DUKKHA
Now, we come to step fifteen, nirodhanupassi, studying and contemplating the quenching of attachment. Observe the cessation of attachment, the non-existence of attachment while breathing in and breathing out. We can observe quenching or cessation from a variety of perspectives: the quenching of attachment to "self"; the quenching of selfishness; the quenching of greed, anger, and delusion, and the quenching of all experiences of dukkha. All of them occur with the quenching of attachment. There are many forms of nirodha. (l61)
When we speak of quenching, remember that the ending of dukkha is what the practice of Dhamma is all about. Here, we observe different aspects of dukkha to see how they are quenched. The first aspect is the ending of frightfulness, the horror of birth, aging, illness, and death. Aging, illness, and death never again terrify our mind. This is one type of quenching. The next aspect is the cessation of the various symptoms or conditions of dukkha, such as, sorrow, grief, lamentation, despair, sadness, pain, frustration, and depression. All of these symptoms of dukkha are quenched. The third aspect is related to our hopes and wants, to attractive and unattractive things. Experiencing things we do not like is dukkha. Being separated from the things we like is dukkha. Not getting what we want is dukkha. These aspects of dukkha are quenched, also.
Lastly, attaching to the five groups (panca-khandha), clinging to one of the five khandha (groups, aggregates, clusters) as "self" or "belonging to self," as "I" or "my" is dukkha. These five groups of things which the mind habitually attaches to are body, feeling, perception, thought, and sense-consciousness. They are the summation of all dukkha, the burdens of life. A full realization of this step must include all four aspects of dukkha's quenching. Quench the frightfulness of birth, aging, illness, and death. Quench the symptoms of dukkha, such as, pain, sorrow, sadness, and despair. Quench wants and desires toward agreeable and disagreeable things. Finally, quench the regarding of any of the five khandha as "self." When these four aspects are quenched, then dukkha is quenched. What we need so badly is realized right here. (162)
Thus we realize the voidness or non-existence of attachment through the quenching, disappearing, and ending of attachment. We experience the absence of attachment, in any of the aspects mentioned above, while we breathe in and breathe out. Or more simply, we drink, taste, and savour the flavor of nibbana. Nirodha and nibbana are synonyms. We can use them interchangeably. Thus, to contemplate the quenching of attachment is to contemplate nibbana. (163)
THROWING IT ALL BACK
Here we come to the last step, the fourth step of the fourth tetrad, the sixteenth step of Anapanasati. It is called patinissagganupassi (contemplating throwing back). Patinissagga is a funny word. It means to throw back or to give back. When we get to this step we contemplate our throwing back, our returning, of everything to which we once attached. This is step sixteen. (164)
There is a simple metaphor for explaining this step. Throughout our lives we have been thieves. We have been stealing things that exist naturally - in and belonging to nature - namely, the sankhara. We have plundered them and taken them to be our selves and our possessions. We are nothing but thieves. For this we are being punished by dukkha. We suffer dukkha due to all our thieving and attaching. As soon as we observe the way things really are through the succession of steps in this tetrad, we let go. We cease being thieves. We return everything to their original owner nature. They belong to nature. Don't claim them to be "I" or "my" ever again! Our goal here is made clear by this metaphor. (165)
DROPPING THE BURDENS OF LIFE
If you prefer, there is a second metaphor. In the past we went around foolishly picking up heavy objects like these boulders.*
* [The hin kong lecture area is covered by satid and full of trees, rocks and boulders.]
Then, we lugged them along wherever we went. For this we suffered dukkha constantly. How many years has it gone on? Now, however, we realize how stupid we were in making such problems for ourselves. We realize how burdensome they are and just toss them away. Without those burdens we are light. All those problems disappear. Before, life itself seemed to be a burden. Our entire life felt like a burden due to our stupidity. We hung on to those natural sankhara, carried them everywhere, and thus; weighed ourselves down terribly. Now we throw them off. This is another metaphor that describes the final step of Anapanasati. (166)
We ought to say that the practice of this last step is training in order to throw away the burdens of life. Throw them away until no burdens remain. Before, we lived under their weight. Their heaviness oppressed us. We call that living beneath the world, or drowning in the world. Once we can toss away the burdens that held us down, that trapped us beneath the world, we ascend. Then we are above the world. We are Lords of the world. This is the true meaning of freedom and well being.
You ought to remember the meanings of these two conditions carefully. Living beneath the world is lokiya. Living above the world is lokuttara. All problems related to these two meanings will be solved during the practice of step sixteen. Let us make it perfectly clear that whenever we are foolish, we pick up weights and pile them up as burdens of life. Once we know what they are doing to us, we throw them off. Now, we no longer have any burdens. Living under the world and living above the world are totally different. Whoever wants to be free, to be at ease, to be above the world, ought to try their best to practice in this matter as mush as possible – starting right now. (167)
THE SUPREME EMANCIPATION
If you like the word "emancipation," be well aware that this is the way to emancipation. Anapanasati successfully practiced through this final step brings emancipation. Or we can use a word that is more in vogue these days - "liberation." When we are liberated from all bonds, we either let go of all burdens or release ourselves away from those burdens. Whether we say "letting go of ourselves" or "letting go of the burdens," the meaning is equally tangible. There is letting go and then the result is emancipation. Or you might call it salvation, deliverance, release, liberation. Whichever word you prefer, they all signify that we have gotten the best thing that human beings should obtain. We have not wasted our lives and the opportunity of finding Dhamma, the best thing that human beings ought to get and have. That is the end of the story.
May we end today's lecture here. (168)