[Part 4]

22 Tháng Ba 20209:26 CH(Xem: 108)
[Part 4]


ThienTapTrongPhatGiao_ABuddhist Meditation
(In "The Spectrum of Buddhism", Chapter 10) 
(Thiền Tập Trong Phật Giáo)
Bhikkhu Pyadassi Mahathera
Source-Nguồn: budsas.net

 

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CONTENTS  

 

[Part 4]

 

Beauty is Skin Deep

The Simile of the Raft

Subjective and Objective Looking

Calm and Insight

Understanding Ourselves

Removing Perversions

Summing Up

 

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Beauty is Skin Deep

 

As the discourse explains, the meditator reflects on this very body encased by the skin and full of impurities from the soles up and from the hair of the head down thinking thus: "There are in this body, hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, flesh, sinews, bones, etc. Thus he lives contemplating foulness in this body."

 

This may not be a subject of meditation quite agreeable to the Westerner. The young in the East or West, in particular, do not like to regard the body as foul. However, whether we like it or not, if we dispassionately review this "fathom-long body" we will not see anything beautiful in it such as pearls and gems, etc., but only a heap of repulsive parts. "Beauty is skin deep." Young or old it is good to understand the real nature of this body, and the fact that we all confront birth, ageing and death. We live, love and laugh, yet our life is dark with ageing, smothered with death, bound up with change, and these qualities are so inherent in it -- even as greenness is to grass, and bitterness to quinine that not all the magic and power of science can ever transform it.

 

"Like as the damask rose you see,
Or like the blossom on the tree,
Or like the dainty flower of May
Or like the morning to the day
Or like the sun, or like the shade,
Or like ground which Jonas had-
Even such is man, whose thread is spun,
Drawn out, and out, and so is done.
The rose withers, the blossom blasteth,
The flower fades, the morning hasteth,
The sun sets, the shadow flies,
The gourd consumes; and man he dies.
Even such is man, who lives by breath,
Is here, now there: so life and death.
Even such is man, who heaps up sorrow,
Lives but this day and dies tomorrow.
The song is short, the joumey's so,
The pear doth rot, the plum doth fall,
The snow dissolves, and so must all
" [1]

 

This view of life is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. Do not think that the Buddhist outlook on life and the world is a gloomy one, and that the Buddhist is in low spirits. Far from it, he smiles as he walks through life.

 

From the contemplation of the body (kayanupassana) let us now proceed to contemplation of feelings or sensations (vedananupassana). In this meditation we are expected to become mindful of our feelings: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. When experiencing a pleasant feeling, the meditator knows that it is a pleasant feeling because he is mindful of the feeling. The same with regard to all other feelings. He tries to experience each feeling as it really is.

 

Generally, people are depressed when they are experiencing unpleasant feelings and are elated by pleasant feelings. This mental exercise of mindfulness helps a man to experience all feelings with a detached outlook, with equanimity and to avoid becoming a slave to sensations. Through insight meditation (vipassana) he also learns to realize that there is only a feeling, a sensation. That, too, is not lasting and there is no permanent entity or "self" that feels.

 

The contemplation of mind (cittanupassana), which is the third type of mindfulness, speaks to us of the importance of studying our own mind, of being aware of our diverse thoughts. Thoughts in this context are those of lust, hatred and delusion, which are the root causes of all wrong doing, and their opposites that counteract those unwholesome states of mind. Rather than thoughts of lust it concerns lust as a state of mind (saragam cittam, etc.).

 

The meditator tries to know through mindfulness both the wholesome states of mind and the unwholesome states of mind. He sees them without attachment or aversion. This kind of dispassionate discernment of the mind makes a man understand the real function of his mind, its real nature and behaviour. Those who practise contemplation of the mind learn to control the mind.

 

A feature of the modern world is its superficiality. Modern man will object, but if he makes an impartial introspection, he cannot deny this. Modern man does not pause to think deeply. External appearance goes a great way with him. See the extent to which modern man is influenced by advertisements and shopwindow exhibitions. If these did not influence him, shopowners would not spend the enormous sums they do on advertisements. Buddhist meditation has a cure for this superficiality: cittanupassana, mindfulness of thought or contemplation of mind.

 

Modern man does very little independent thinking. He seldom forms his own views. The style of dress he adopts, the brand of articles he buys, is decided for him by advertisers. How easily he is moved by the shouting of slogans. Slogans and political propaganda mould man's mind, and life tends to be mechanical; man has become a puppet controlled by others.

 

Modern man has become enmeshed in all sorts of ideas, views, opinions and ideologies both wise and foolish. He is film-fed, television-minded, and radio-trained. Today what is presented by the newspapers, radio, television, some novels and pictures, by certain literature on sex, psychology and by sex-ridden films tend to confuse man, and turn him from the path of rectitude and understanding. But the man who practises mindfulness will be protected from the subtle persuasive power of advertisement or the shouts of the propagandists, or the dramatic effects of mass movements.

 

Another weakness of modem man is his desire for change and for quick results. The absence of calm in him is a great deficiency. Calm begets mental strength. Absence of calm begets impatience and the impatient man is never satisfied. He always wants something new and startling. He is disappointed if he takes up the morning newspaper and finds no banner headlines.

 

Modem man craves for variety. He craves for sensations, he is fed on sensations. He continually yearns for something fresh, for new methods, new machinery, new drugs, a new way of life, a new ideology. There is no end to this. This modern attitude is symptomatic of a disease -- the disease of mental unrest.

 

Here again the practice of mindfulness is the much needed cure. Mindfulness leads to calmness, and calmness gives an even tone to one's life. Trained in calmness, he will shed a host of unnecessary desires. He will "walk through the uneven with an even stride" (visame samam caranti). [2]

 

The contemplation of the mind also makes us realise that what we call mind is only an ever-changing process consisting of changing mental factors and that there is no abiding entity called ego or self.

 

The fourth and the last type of mindfulness is the contemplation of mental objects or mind contents (dhammanupassana). This covers all the essential Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha, most of which are discussed in The Buddha's Ancient Path by the present writer.

 

The contemplation of mental objects is not mere thinking or deliberation -- rather it goes hand in hand with mindfulness in discerning mind objects as and when they arise and cease (samudayavaya). When, for example, sense desire is present in him the meditator knows: "There is sense desire in me," or when sense desire is absent, he knows: "There is no sense desire in me," and so on. The same with regard to the other hindrances (nivaramani).  [3]

 

In the same manner he discerns with mindfulness the five aggregates of clinging (panca-upadanakkhandha) -- body or material form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

 

He discerns with mindfulness the six internal and the six external sense-bases. Herein the meditator knows well the eye, the visible form and the fetter [4] that arises dependent on both (the eye and form); he knows well the ear and sounds ... the nose and smells ... tongue and savours ... the body and tactile objects ... the mind and mind objects, and knows well the fetter arising dependent on both. He also knows the ceasing of the fetter.

 

Similarly he discerns the seven factors of enlightenment (sattabojjhanga)  [5] and the Four Noble Truths (cattari ariyasaccani). The Four Noble Truths in this context are not intellectual categories to be cogitated upon, but palpable illustrations of them which the meditator comes across and identifies.

 

"Thus he lives mindfully investigating and understanding the mental objects. He lives independent, clinging to nothing in the world". The fourfold mindfulness is a teaching (Dhamma) on which all aspects of the Dhamma converge.

 

The description of each type of mindfulness in the discourse ends with the words: "He lives independent clinging to nothing in the world"; for "everything when clung to fails." [6] This is the result aimed at by the meditator to be achieved by the earnest and ever zealous. "Lives independent" means aloof from craving and wrong views (tanha, ditthi). Here "world" means the world of being, one's own psycho-physical organism. He does not cling to this process of mind and body and regard it as a permanent ego entity or self.

 

The Simile of the Raft

 

It is because of our greed, our craving, that we cling to people and things. If we can practise the art of dealing with things with a detached outlook, then we learn to let go. Our bonds are not in the sense organs or in sense objects. They are due to our greed that arises when the sense organs come in contact with sense objects. [7] So the problem and solution, the malady and the remedy, lie within. Learn the art of giving up. It is hard to live clinging to nothing in the world and our efforts to reach such spiritual heights may appear impossible. Yet it is possible and worth striving for again and again; for by dint of effort and hard work, many have attained those heights in this very life. "Sow a thought and you reap a deed. Sow a deed, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny -- for character is destiny."

 

In this connection it is interesting to know the Buddha's simile of the raft. [8] Let us listen to him:

 

"Using the simile of a raft, monks, I teach the Dhamma designed for crossing over and not for retaining. Listen and attend carefully to what I say."

 

"Yes, Venerable Sir," the monks replied. The Buddha continued:

 

"Monks, a man sets out on a journey and comes to a vast stretch of water. The near bank is beset with fears and dangers, the far bank is safe. But no boat goes to the further shore and there is no bridge. He thinks: 'Vast, indeed, is this stretch of water, the near bank is unsafe but the further one is without danger. I had better collect grass, leaves, branches and wood to make a raft and with its aid using my hands and feet, ferry myself across to the further shore.'

 

"Then, monks, that man having made a raft crosses over safely to the further shore striving with his hands and feet. Having crossed he thinks: 'This raft has been very useful, for with its aid I have reached the further bank safely. I had better carry it on my head or back and go wherever I want.' "What do you think, monks, if he does this is he acting rightly about the raft?" "No, indeed, Lord."

 

"Suppose that man who has crossed over to the further bank should think:

 

'This raft has been very useful, with its aid I have reached the further bank safely. I had better beach it, or let it float down the vast stretch of water and go wherever I want.' If he acts thus, monks, he would be acting rightly about the raft. Even so, monks, using the simile of a raft have I taught the Dhamma designed for crossing over, and not for retaining. You, monks, who understand the Dhamma taught by using the simile of the raft, have to give up good things (dhamma); how much more the evil things (a-dhamma)." It is interesting to note that the word "dhamma" here, according to the Commentary, means calm or concentration of mind (samatha) and insight (vipassana). Clinging even to such high mental attainments as these should be given up. Need one speak of evil things?

 

Subjective and Objective Looking

 

In the Satipatthana Sutta mindfulness is specially concerned with just four things: body, feelings, mind and mental objects. The contemplation of the body makes us realise the true nature of the body, without any pretence, by analysing it right down to its ultimates, its fundamental elements. This mental scrutiny of our own body helps us to understand that it is a process without any underlying substance or core that may be taken as permanent and lasting.

 

A special feature of this all-important mental factor of mindfulness is that it involves a method of looking at things objectively rather than subjectively. So it is important to know the difference between objective and subjective looking. The practice of all the four types of meditation on setting up of mindfulness is done objectively without any subjective reaction. One should not be an interested observer, but a bare observer, to practise mindfulness. Then only can one see the object in its proper perspective, as it really is, and not as it appears to be.

 

When you observe a thing subjectively, your mind gets involved in it, you tend to identify yourself with it. You judge, evaluate, appraise and comment on it. Such subjective looking colours your observation. So in the practice of the four types of mindfulness, that is, mindfulness of body, of feelings, of the mind, and of mental objects, one should contemplate it without any biases, prejudices, likes and dislikes and other preconceived considerations and notions. In other words, mindfulness should be practised in an objective way as if you are observing the object from outside.

 

When "contemplating the body in the body" (kaye-kayanupassi) you do not contemplate feelings, states of mind, or mental objects conceming your body, but only the body itself. In this connection we should take to heart the precise and clear way the Buddha taught Bahiya. Bahiya was the leader of a religious sect who assumed himself to be an Arahat, a consummate one. But later, on the advice of another, he went to the Buddha to learn the technique, the process, whereby one can become an Arahat. Knowing that Bahiya was a man of understanding, the Buddha taught him the technique in these words:

 

"Bahiya, thus should you train yourself: 'In what is seen there should be to you only the seen; in the heard there should be only the heard; in what is sensed (as smell, taste and touch) there should be only what is sensed; in the cognizing there should be only the cognizing.' "

 

Here the idea of "I am seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and cognizing" is removed. The "I" concept, the ego-illusion, drops away. This kind of attention removes tension, it calms and relaxes the mind, and that is the reason why meditators do not need much sleep. Let alone deep meditation, many do not know the art of seeing even a natural phenomena; for they have not trained themselves in observing things objectively.

 

Suppose you are gazing at a gorgeous sunset. If you start commenting, judging, and observing it subjectively, then you are not seeing the sunset, you do not really see its beauty.

 

But if you view it objectively with a calm and quiet mind, with complete attention, then you will see the beauty of the sunset in all its fullness, and also that the so called beauty is ephemeral, impermanent and ever changing. This applies to many other things. If you can look at a rose or a lotus objectively without any subjective reaction, then you will see. If you are a lover of music and if you listen to music with undivided attention, you may enjoy the music more than the musician does.

 

Calm and Insight

 

Even the higher practice of calming concentration (samadhi) does not place the meditator in a position of security; for the underlying defilements or latent tendencies (anusaya) are not removed. They are in abeyance. At any moment they may re-appear when circumstances permit, and plague his mind if right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration wane. As he still has the impurities, unwholesome impulses latent in his mental make-up, he is not yet in a state of absolute security. He has gained calm of mind through samadhi or concentration. However, it is through vipassana, insight meditation, that the latent defilements are rooted out of his mind. So the meditator training himself in virtue and concentration, develops vipassana or insight.

 

The development of concentrative calm, samadhi, is thus never an end in itself. It is only a means to something more sublime which is of vital importance, namely, insight, vipassana. In other words, it is a means to gain right understanding, the first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path. Though only a means to an end, samadhi plays an important role in the path. It is also known as citta-visuddhi, purity of mind, which is brought about by the stilling of hindrances. [9] The Buddha says: "Develop calm, the disciple who has gained calm sees things as they really are" (samadhim bhavetha, samahito yatha bhatam pajanati).  [10]

 

"Two things (dhamma), monks, should be developed for the understanding of lust, hatred and delusion ... What two? Calm and insight. These two things should be developed for the abandonment, extinction and cessation of lust, hatred and delusion ..." [11]

 

Further says the Buddha: "Two things, monks, partake of knowledge (vijja-bhagiya): calm and insight; when calm is developed, mind is developed; through developed mind, lust is abandoned. When insight is developed, wisdom is developed. Through developed insight, ignorance is abandoned. The mind polluted with lust is not liberated. When there is pollution through ignorance, wisdom is not developed."

 

Thus deliverance of the mind (ceto vimutti) is due to the mind being cleansed from lust. Deliverance through wisdom (panna-vimutti) is due to the mind being cleansed from ignorance. [12]

 

From the foregoing it is obvious that calm and insight, in other words, right concentration and right understanding of the path, cannot be separated. Together they support each other. Without a certain measure of concentrative calm, no insight can be developed and without some measure of insight, no concentration can be developed. They are inseparable; this fact is explained by the Buddha thus:

 

"No concentration is there for the unwise,
No wisdom in one who lacks concentration;
In whom there is concentration and wisdom,
He truly is in Nibbana's neighbourhood
. [13]

 

Understanding Ourselves

 

The meditator who gains deep concentration of mind through mindfulness of in-and-out-breathing, now directs his thoughts to insight meditation (vipassana bhavana). In this context vipassana, or insight, means understanding things as they really are, that is seeing the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-substantial (non-self) nature of the five aggregates of clinging. In plain language it is understanding ourselves. It is not easy for us to understand ourselves because of our wrong concepts, baseless illusions, perversions and delusions. It is so diffcult to see the real person. Through vipassana one endeavours to remove the illusions (maya), concepts (pannatti) and perversions (vipallasa) and see ourselves as we really are.

 

When the meditator has advanced in his breathing meditation, when his mind is calmed through stilling the hindrances, he can see the impermanent nature of his own breath: its rise and fall like the waves of the sea. Now based on the impermanent breath, he endeavours to understand the impermanent nature of the five aggregates of clinging. The analysis of the so called being into the five ever-changing aggregates makes it clear that there is nothing abiding, nothing eternally conserved in this so called being -- this process of mind and body. One has also to take to heart the sequence between mindfulness (sati), analysis of the Dhamma (dhamma-vicaya), effort (viriya) and so forth, in the factors of enlightenment, mentioned in the fourth type of mindfulness (dhammanupassana). Mindfully one analyzes the dhamma. Here "dhamma" means one's mind and body. For this one needs determination and the fourfold effort  [14] to have a clear picture of the function of the mental factors, to overcome the unwholesome and maintain the wholesome thoughts. As the meditator proceeds with indefatigable zeal analysing the mind and body, seeing with insight what is beyond the naked eye, there arises unalloyed joy (araddha viriyassa uppajjati piti niramisa). [15]

 

Change or impermanence (anicca) is the essential characteristic of phenomenal existence.

 

We cannot say of anything, animate or inanimate, "this is lasting"; for even while we say this, it is undergoing change. The aggregates are compounded and conditioned, and therefore ever subject to cause and effect. Unceasingly does mind and its factors change, and just as unceasingly, though at a lower rate, the physical body also changes from moment to moment. "He who sees clearly that the impermanent aggregates are impermanent, has right understanding." [16]

 

The Buddha gives five very striking similes to illustrate the impermanent nature of the five aggregates of clinging. He compares material form or body to a lump of foam, feeling to a bubble, perception to a mirage, mental formations or volitional activities to a plantain trunk which is pithless, without heartwood and consciousness to an illusion. He asks:

 

"What essence, monks, could there be in a lump of foam, in a bubble, in a mirage, in a plantain trunk, in an illusion?" Continuing, the Buddha says:

 

"Whatever material form there be whether past, future or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; low or lofty; far or near; that material form the meditator sees, meditates upon, examines with systematic and wise attention (yoniso manasikara), he thus seeing, meditating upon, and examining with systematic and wise attention, would find it empty, unsubstantial and without essence. What essence, monks, could there be in material form?" The Buddha speaks in the same manner of the remaining aggregates and asks: "What essence, monks, could there be in feeling, in perception, in mental formations and in consciousness?"

 

Thus we see that a more advanced range of thought comes with the analysis of the five aggregates of clinging. It is at this stage that right understanding, insight (vipassana) begins to work. It is through this insight that the true nature of the aggregates is grasped and seen in the light of the three signs or characteristics (ti-lakkhana), namely: impermanence, suffering or unsatisfactoriness and not-self. The Master explains it thus:

 

"The five aggregates, monks, are impermanent (anicca); whatever is impermanent, that is dukkha, unsatisfactory; that is without self (anatta), that is not mine, that I am not, that is not my self. Thus should it be seen by perfect wisdom (sammappannaya) as it really is. He who sees by perfect wisdom as it really is, his mind not grasping, is detached from taints, he is liberated." [17]

 

It is not only the five aggregates that are impermanent, unsatisfactory and without a self, but the causes and conditions that produce the aggregates are also impermanent, unsatisfactory and without a self. This point the Buddha makes clear:

 

"Material form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness, monks, are impermanent; whatever causes and conditions there are for the arising of these aggregates, they too are impermanent. How, monks, could aggregates, arising from what is impermanent be permanent?" [18] "What is impermanent is not worth rejoicing, not worth approval, not worth clinging to ..." [19]

 

We actually live for one moment only, and the next moment, it is another life. Thus the duration of life, in the ultimate sense, is for one moment only. This is sometimes referred to as the instantaneousness of life. There is a living and dying every moment. Today is the tomorrow we spoke of yesterday. The meditative mind unrelated to the past and to the future is capable of living with clarity and reason in the world.

 

The essence of vipassana meditation is in the experience, not in sermons and books on meditation, though they have their advantages. Do not cling to any goal or results of meditation. This is a practice without any attachment to anything material, mental or spriritual; for all things when clung to fail. Be ever vigilant and mindful. The Discourse on Setting Up of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta) repeats the saying: "He lives independent, clinging to nothing in the world" (anissito ca viharati na ca kinci loke upadiyati). This is the result a meditator gains.

 

Removing Perversions

 

It is always when we fail to see the true nature of things that our views become clouded. Because of our likes and dislikes, we fail to see the sense organs and sense objects objectively and in their proper perspective and go after mirages, illusions and deceptions. The sense organs delude and mislead us and then we fail to see things in their true light as a result of which our way of seeing things becomes perverted.

 

The delusion of mind mistakes the unreal for the real, the passing shadows for permanence, and the result is confusion, conflict, disharmony and perpetual sorrow.

 

When a man is caught up in these illusions, he perceives, thinks and views incorrectly.

 

He perceives permanence in the impermanent; pleasure in pain; self in what is not self; beauty in the repulsive. He thinks and views in the same erroneous manner. Thus each perversion works in four ways, [20] and leads man astray, clouds his vision and confuses him. He is deluded by his own senses. This is due to unwise reflection, unsystematic attention (ayoniso-manasikara). He who cannot see the true nature of this world, its ways, its tendencies, the inevitable fruit of actions, and he who cannot see that life is not permanent and lacking in true happiness, and who, therefore, still clings to the world, is too young yet in life. He has to mature in right understanding before the Buddhadhamma has a message for him. His veils of lust, self-conceit and delusion are thick and strong. The terrible dangers of the world of life lay in the understanding of life; for everything here pertaining to world changes; there is no exception, one can rely on nothing.

 

Right understanding or insight alone removes these illusions and helps man to cognize the real nature that underlies all appearance. It is only when man comes out of this cloud of illusions and perversions that he shines with true wisdom like the full moon that emerges brilliant from behind a black cloud.

 

When discussing the three-fold training: virtue, concentration and wisdom, leading to final deliverance and complete mental purity, it is important to understand how man's latent or underlying tendencies function.

 

When the defilements lie dormant in the recesses of man's mind, they are called latent, underlying or hidden (anusaya). [21] "They are dormant so long as they are not fed. The five sense organs with the mind as the sixth, provide the necessary food in the form of visible objects, sounds, smell, taste, touch and mental objects. These six kinds of food can be either agreeable or offensive. In either case, sense objects act as stimulants, and no sooner are the latent tendencies thus stimulated than they rise to the surface. This uprising of the tendencies is known as pariyutthana or samudagata. When they are thus awakened and aroused, they tend to escape, and seek an outlet. If man fails to exercise systematic wise attention (yoniso-manasikara) and calm down the risen tendencies, they escape either through the doors of speech or deed or through both, and that is called transgression or going beyond (vitikkama).

 

Of these three stages of the tendencies, the third, that is the "transgression stage," is coarse, the second, the "risen stage,"is fine, and the first, or the "latent stage," is still finer. The three weapons to overcome them and to deliver the mind from their grip are virtue, concentration and wisdom.

 

Through virtue or sila all bodily and verbal ill actions are brought under control, and the transgression stage is checked. It is true, even for training verbal and physical acts a certain measure of mental discipline is needed, though not necessarily intense and serious meditation.

 

Man may, through sila, be calm and composed verbally and physically, but not in mind; he lacks concentration, samadhi. Virtue cannot control the mind, though it is an asset to mental calm. Concentration with the aid of wise attention subdues the second type of tendencies thus preventing them from escaping. Concentration, however, is incapable of removing the latent tendencies. It is through wisdom, which is insight, vipassana, that all impulses, all tendencies are completely eradicated. And then no more can a man be confused by the terrible, or swept off his feet by the glamour of things ephemeral. No more is it possible for him to have a clouded view of phenomena; for he has transcended all capacity for error through perfect immunity which vipassana alone can grant. And this is deliverance (vimutti), the stepping out (nissarama) from the vicious circle of samsara, repeated existence.

 

Let us now call to mind the proclamation of the Buddha in the opening lines of the Satipatthana Sutta:

 

Satipatthana is the one and only way for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the abandoning of pain and grief, for reaching the right path and realising Nibbana.

 

Summing Up

 

As we discussed earlier, the starting point in the Dispensation of the Buddha (Buddha-sasana) is sila, virtuous behaviour. Standing on the firm ground of sila, the meditator should endeavour to discipline the fickle mind. The Buddha pointed out to his disciples ways and means of overcoming verbal and physical ill behaviour. By taming his tongue, controlling his bodily actions, and making himself pure in the way he earns his living, the meditator establishes himself well in moral habits. While thus restraining himself in word and deed, he tries to guard the doors of the senses; for if he lacks control over his senses, unhealthy thoughts are bound to fill his mind. He maintains his balance putting away all likes and dislikes. This control of the senses he practises with zest. He eats moderately and mindfully and is devoted to wakefulness.

 

Now if he is earnest and mindful, he will advance without faltering and start the more difficult task of meditation. Taking up a subject of meditation that suits his temperament and continuing with it without stopping, he gains concentrative calm by overcoming the hindrances which obstruct the meditation. Thus the meditator who strives mindfully gains control over his fickle mind. With his speech, actions and sense organs subjugated and his mind under control, he has now gained self-mastery.

 

Thus training himself in virtue and concentration (sila-sikkha and samadhi-sikkha), he now tries to gain true wisdom or insight by seeing all things as they really are (yathabh|tam). Viewing things as they really are implies, as we have discussed above, seeing the transient, unsatisfactory and selfless nature of all conditioned and component things. To such a meditative disciple of the Buddha, the "world" is not the external or empirical world, but the human body with its consciousness -- the world of the five aggregates of clinging. It is this that he tries to understand as impermanent, unsatisfactory and without self or ego entity. It is to this world of body and mind that the Buddha referred when he said to Mogharaja: "Ever mindful, Mogharaja, see the world as void (sunna) –having given up the notion of a self (underlying it) -- so may one overcome Mara (death.)" [22]

 

The vipassana method implies gaining knowledge by direct observation. It goes beyond the intellect, beyond theory, beyond conceptual interpretation, to the actual experiencing of life itself.

 

Thus comprehending things as they really are, thus realising the true nature of the five aggregates of clinging, by washing out the impurities of his mind, he "lives independent, clinging to nothing in the world."

 

The reader will note that in this self-purification and self-mastery for final deliverance, there is no coercion or compulsion by any external agency, there are no rewards or punishments for deeds done or left undone. Deliverance from mental taints lies absolutely and entirely in one's own hands, not in someone else's -- be it human or divine. The door is free of all bolts and bars except those that man himself has made. Not even a supreme Buddha can deliver a man from the fetters of existence except by showing him the path. The path is virtue, concentration and wisdom.

 

All life's problems can be reduced to one single problem, that of dukkha, suffering or unsatisfactoriness. And the solution put forward by the Buddhas or Enlightened Ones of all ages is the Noble Eightfold Path. The efficiency of this path lies in the practice of it. The Buddha's meditation path, which is the Noble Eightfold Path, still beckons the weary pilgrim to the haven of Nibbana's security and peace. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" and as the old saying goes: "Some run swiftly; some walk; some creep painfully; but all who keep on will reach the goal."

 

____________________

 

 

[1] From The Centuries Poetry. Vol. 2, pp 153-155.

 

[2] Samyutta Nikaya i, 4

 

[3] See Addendum IV

 

[4] There are ten fetters: 1, sense desire, 2. ill will. 3. pride, 4. speculative opinion or wrong view, 5. doubts, 6. lust for existence, 7. indulgence in wrong rites, rituals and ceremonies, 8. envy, 9. avarice, 10. ignorance. These fetters arise depending on both eye and forms, ear and sounds, etc. The Commentary explains how these fetters arise. Read Soma Thera, The Way of Mindfulness (Kandy BPS) p. 132.

 

[5] 1) Mindfulness, 2) investigation of the dhamma (mind and matter), 3) energy, 4) rapture, 5) calm, 6) concentration, 7) equanimity.

 

[6] Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesayati, Majjhima Nikaya i. 251

 

[7] Samyutta Nikaya, i, 39.

 

[8] Majjhima 22

 

[9] See Addendum IV

 

[10] Samyutta Nikaya ii, 13.

 

[11] Anguttara Nikaya, i. 100

 

[12] Anguttara, i. 61

 

[13] Dhammapada v.372

 

[14] See Addendum III

 

[15] Majjhima Nikaya 118/ III 85.

 

[16] Samyutta Nikaya iii, 23

 

[17] Samyutta Nikaya iii, 44.

 

[18] Samyutta Nikaya iii, 23.

 

[19] Majjhima Nikaya 106/ II. 263

 

[20] Anguttara Nikaya ii, 52, Catukka Nipata 49; Anguttara Nikaya, Part translation by Nyanaponika (Kandy: BPS) Wheel 155/158, p. 86

 

[21] There are seven latent tendencies: 1. sense desire, 2. ill will, 3. wrong view, 4. doubt, 5. pride, 6. lust for continued existence, 7. ignorance (kama-raga, patigha, ditthi, vicikiccha, mana, bhava-raga, avijja) -- D.iii, 11.12.

 

[22] R. L. Stevenson

 

 

____________________

 

 

 

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