[Part 5]

22 Tháng Ba 20209:26 CH(Xem: 470)
[Part 5]


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 5]

 

ADDENDUM I: Thus Have I Heard

 

ADDENDUM II: The Art of Noble Living (Brahma-vihara)

I- Loving-kindness (Metta)

II- Compassion (Karuma)

III- Sympathetic Joy (Mudita)

IV- Equanimity (Upekkha)

 

ADDENDUM III: Right Effort

 

ADDENDUM IV: Hindrances (Nivarama)

 

ADDENDUM V: Sona, the Earnest Meditator

 

ADDENDUM VI: The Removal of Distracting Thought

 

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ADDENDUM I

 

Thus Have I Heard

 

Then a certain monk visited the Buddha, saluted him and sat on one side. Having saluted, he said to the Buddha: "They say, Lord, 'Living according to the Dhamma' (dhamma-vihari). Lord, how does a monk live according to the Dhamma?"

 

1. "Here, 0 monk, a monk masters the Dhamma (the teaching of the Buddha) and spends the day in that mastery, does not go into solitude, does not practise mind concentration. That monk is said to be intensely bent on study, but he lives not according to the Dhamma.

 

2. "Again, 0 monk, a monk teaches others the Dhamma in detail as he has heard it, as he has mastered it; he spends the day convincing others of the Dhamma, does not go into solitude, does not practise concentration of mind. That monk is said to be intent on convincing others, but he lives not according to the Dhamma.

 

3. "Again, 0 monk, a monk repeats the Dhamma in detail as he has heard it, as he has mastered it, he spends the day in that repetition, does not go into solitude, does not practise mind concentration. That monk is said to be intent on repeating, but he lives not according to the Dhamma.

 

4. "Again, 0 monk, a monk turns his mind to the Dhamma, ponders over it, reflects on it, as he has heard it, as he has mastered it; he spends the day in thinking about the Dhamma, but he lives not according to the Dhamma.

 

5. "But, 0 monk, a monk masters the Dhamma, but does not spend the day in that mastery; he goes into solitude and practises mind concentration. Verily, 0 monk, such a monk lives according to the Dhamma.

 

"O monk, thus, indeed, have I declared: one intent on study, one intent on convincing others, one intent on repeating, one intent on thinking and one who lives according to the Dhamma.

 

"What should be done by a teacher for his disciples out of love and compassion, that has been done by me for you. Here are tree-roots, empty places; meditate, 0 monks, do not be heedless, do not have any regrets afterwards: This is my exhortion to you"

 

(Anguttara Nikaya, Pancaka Nipata 73).

 

 

 

ADDENDUM II

 

The Art of Noble Living
(Brahma-vihara)

 

Brahma-vihara is another subject of meditation that is beneficial to practise. The word "brahma" can be rendered as excellent, lofty, sublime or noble, and vihara, "as states of living." Brahma-vihara, therefore, means sublime states; some call it "divine abodes." It can also be called "the art of noble living."

 

There are four brahma-viharas, namely:

 

Loving-kindness or universal love (metta),
Compassion (karuma),
Sympathetic joy, altruistic or appreciative joy (mudita),
Equanimity (upekkha).

 

These are excellent virtues conducive to noble living. They banish selfishness and disharmony and promote altruism, unity and brotherhood. They are also known as boundless states or illimitables (appamannayo) because they are virtues to be extended towards all beings, without exception, irrespective of race, caste, colour, community, creed, East or West.

 

Subha-vimokkha is another term by which these qualities of the heart are known. It means deliverance of the mind (vimokkha) through recognition of the good (subha) in others. Instead of seeing the evil in others, the meditator sees the good in them and cultivates the four sublime states.

 

Latent in the human mind are defilements of diverse type, so it is natural for man to entertain unwholesome thoughts. However, each and every defilement has its opposite virtue; thus it is possible to develop a virtue to overcome and eliminate a defilement. When developing the sublime states no living being is to be excluded. These qualities make no distinction between man and man as high and low, rich and poor, strong and weak, wise and unwise, dark and fair, brahmin and candala, or as Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.; for these sublime states, as we saw above, are boundless, and no sooner do we try to keep men apart on the basis of false distinctions, than the feeling of separateness creeps in and these boundless qualities become limited, contrary to the high ideals they represent.

 

The brahma-vihara can also be taken as subjects of meditation, then they are called "brahma-vihara bhavana," "the meditative developments of the sublime states." By cultivating these positive virtues one can maintain a calm and pure mind.

 

When practising meditation on the brahma-viharas, it is easier to start with oneself. For instance, when meditating on love, proceed thus: "May I be well, may I be happy; may I be free from illness, may no harm come to me," and so forth. Then think of a teacher, a friend, an indifferent person and lastly an enemy (if any, but one should not create an enemy), and radiate thoughts of love towards them. It may appear very difficult to extend love to an enemy, but this difficult thing one has to do to remove discrimination. Love should be extended to all without any compromising limitations.

 

You may ask why love should be radiated to oneself. Is it not selfish to do so? Seemingly it may be, but by doing so it becomes easier to extend our love to others: "I like to be well and happy, so let other beings also be well and happy." "As I am so they are: as they are so am I," thus comparing self with others cultivate love towards all. [23]

 

Verse number 130 of the Dhammapada reads:

 

"All tremble at punishment,
To all life is dear.
Comparing others with oneself,
One should neither kill nor cause to kill."

 

I- Loving-kindness (Metta)

 

Metta (Skt. maitri) is the wish for the welfare and happiness of all beings, making no restriction whatsoever. It has the character of a benevolent friend. Its direct enemy is ill will or hatred while the indirect or masked enemy is carnal love, sensual attachment or selfish affectionate desire (pema) which is quite different from metta. Carnal love when disguised as metta can do much harm to oneself and others. We have to be on our guard against this masked enemy, sensuality and greedy possessiveness. If the feeling of love is the direct result of attachment and clinging, then it is not really metta.

 

To love someone means to develop an attachment to the loved one, and when the latter is equally fond of you, a bond is created, but when you are separated or when the dear one's affection towards you wanes, you become miserable and may even behave foolishly. In his formulation of the Noble Truth of Suffering, the Buddha says: "Association with the unloved is suffering, separation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering." Metta, however, is a very pure sublime state which, like quicksilver, cannot attach itself to anything.

 

It is difficult to love a person dispassionately, without clinging, without any idea of self, me and mine; for in man the notion of "I" is dominant, and to love without making any distinction between this and that, without barriers between persons, to regard all as sisters and brothers with a boundless heart, may appear to be almost impossible. But those who try even a little will be rewarded; it is worthwhile.

 

Vicious thoughts of animosity and hatred are most detrimental and harmful to those who harbour them. When people are angry, they can behave very much as the other animals do. They growl and bite, or cringe and fawn. This is due to man's ignorance. This is as true on the personal as it is on the international level.

 

Metta is the best antidote for anger in ourselves. It is the best medicine for those who are angry with us. Let us extend love to all who need it with a free and boundless heart. Love is the language of the heart, a language that comes from the heart and goes to the heart. Love is a force linking heart with heart to heal, and uniting us in true companionship. Highly developed thoughts of metta seem to possess magnetic power. By radiating such sublime thoughts it is possible to influence and win over people.

 

Through love one adds to the fund of human happiness, one makes the world brighter, nobler and purer and prepares it for the good life better than in any other way. There is no ill-luck worse than hatred it is said, and no safety from others' hostility greater than the heart of love, the heart in which hate is dead. Love is an active force. Every act of metta is done with the stainless mind to help, to succour, to cheer, to make the paths of others easier, smoother, and more adapted to the conquest of sorrow, the winning of the highest bliss.

 

The way to develop love is through thinking out the evils of hate, and the advantages of non-hate; through thinking out according to actuality, according to kamma, that really there is none to hate, that hate is a foolish way of feeling, which breeds more and more darkness, that obstructs right understanding.

 

Hatred restricts; love releases. Hatred strangles; love liberates. Hatred brings remorse; love brings peace. Hatred agitates; love quietens, stills, calms. Hatred divides; love unites. Hatred hardens; love softens. Hatred hinders; love helps. Thus one can use a correct study and appreciation of the effects of hatred and the benefits of love, as a basis for developing the meditation on loving-kindness.

 

Love

 

As a mother loves her child,
An only child,
With love that knows no limit,
Spreading wide,
Measureless and immense --
And, for it, will sacrifice
Her very life --
So let your love for all beings,
East and west, north and south,
Below, above --
Extending and extending wide,
Be immeasurable, exhaustless. Unfathomable.
Chaste is such love,
Not clinging -- and so to fools
'Tis incomprehensible;
But the Seers understood,
And understanding, knew full well
Its golden worth.
(after Metta Sutta, trans. Kassapa Thera)

 

II- Compassion (Karuma)

 

Karuma is defined as "the quality which makes the heart of the good man tremble and quiver at the distress of others," "the quality that rouses tender feelings in the good man at the sight of others' suffering." Cruelty or violence is the direct enemy of karuma while homely grief is the indirect or masked enemy. Though the latter may appear in the guise of a friend, it is not true karuma, but false sympathy; such sympathy is deceitful and one must try to distinguish true from false compassion. The compassionate man who refrains from harming and oppressing others and endeavours to relieve them of their distress, gives the gift of security to one and all, making no distinction whatsoever.

 

Karuma is loving-compassion. It is that sublime quality which makes the hearts of the noble quiver at the suffering of the world. Karuma has the characteristic of a mother whose thoughts, words and deeds tend to relieve the distress of her babe. It has the property of not being able to tolerate the sufferings of others, and the manifestation of perfect non-violence. Its consummation is the eradication of all cruelty. Its proximate cause is the sight of the forlorn state of those in distress.

 

By precept and example the Buddha was the Great Compassionate One (Mahakarumika). He radiated his great compassion towards all beings, and never encouraged wrangling, animosity and violence. Addressing the disciples he once said: "I quarrel not with the world, it is the world that quarrels with me. An exponent of the Dhamma does not quarrel with anyone in the world." [24] The entire dispensation of the Buddha is permeated with this sublime quality of karuma.

 

Goodness and violence cannot co-exist; goodness constructs while violence destroys. Compassion cannot be cultivated by one who is obsessed with thoughts of selfishness. It is the self-sacrificing man who fills his heart with pure thoughts of pity and wishes to help and serve others. The selfish cannot be of real service to others for their selfish motives prevent them from doing good. No sooner do they become selfish and self-possessed than they fail to soften their hearts. Hard-heartedness is overcome by pity, by sympathy. If you remove compassion from the teachings of the Buddha, you remove the heart of Buddhism; for all virtues, all goodness and righteousness have compassion as their basis, as their matrix (karuma nidhanam hi silam).

 

All the virtues (paramita) that a Bodhisatta, one bent on Enlightenment, cultivates are initiated by compassion. Compassion is guided by wisdom and wisdom by compassion. They go hand in hand, they are the backbone of Buddhism, the guiding principles.

 

Compassion is surely not a flabby state of mind. It is a strong enduring thing. When a person is in distress, it is compassion that spurs us to action and incites us to rescue the distressed. And this needs strength of mind.

 

People are fascinated by a study of the various types of machinery which science has invented. What is urgently needed is a study of the machinery of the human mind. It is this study that can help to clear the misunderstanding between man and man.

 

As the poet says:

 

"Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone:
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in our own."

 

III- Sympathetic Joy (Mudita)

 

Gladness at others' success is the third sublime state, known as mudita. It is not mere sympathy but sympathetic, altruistic or appreciative joy. Its direct enemy is jealousy and the indirect enemy is exhilaration. Jealousy is a vice that defiles our hearts and makes us unhappy.

 

When others are in distress we show our compassion, we sympathize with them and try to relieve them of their distress. But to appreciate another's success we need sympathetic joy. It is this quality of the heart that makes us rejoice over the success of others as we rejoice over our own. Jealous people cannot feel happy when others are progressing, but they rejoice over the failures and misfortunes of others. Some parents feel jealous when others' children are doing well while their own are not successful. This is meaningless, and bears unpleasant fruit.

 

Jealousy is a vice shared by people of different walks of life -- intellectuals, politicians and even men of large calibre. If that is so, need one speak of the poor and the illiterate? However, at times, the latter are more co-operative and unselfish.

 

Instead of entertaining thoughts of jealousy, we should work hard with determination to surmount obstacles and fulfil our hopes. Let us also bear in mind that our kamma, or moral causation also has a role to play in our lives.

 

Mudita is the congratulatory attitude of a person, it removes aversion. Through meditation and the study of the vicissitudes of life, we can cultivate this sublime virtue of appreciating others' happiness, welfare and progress. When we learn to rejoice with the joy of others, our hearts get purified, serene and lofty.

 

Seeing a starving man we offer him food out of compassion (karuma). When we see that he has eaten, that his hunger has ceased, and that he feels happy, then we too feel happy and pleased. Such selfless action really brings us unalloyed joy, sympathetic joy (mudita). You will now see how these sublime states function together supporting one another.

 

IV- Equanimity (Upekkha)

 

The fourth and the last sublime state is equanimity, upekkha. It is "even-mindedness," mental equipoise and not hedonic indifference. Equanimity is the result of a calm concentrative mind. The four sublime states are interrelated and interdependent, but it is equanimity that guards the rest: love, compassion and sympathetic joy. Equanimity is the most essential quality, deep and difficult to cultivate.

 

Life is not a bed of roses. One needs much patience, energy and determination to cultivate these qualities without being selfish or partial. Equanimity or balance of mind guides the other three qualities and keeps the meditator in a place of security. It brings about self-reliance.

 

We are all confronted with the eight vicissitudes of life (attha loka dhamma): gain and loss, good repute and ill repute, praise and censure, pain and pleasure. It is hard to be undisturbed when touched by this welter of experience. But the man who cultivates equanimity is not upset. He does not waver. Amidst blame and praise, success and failure, he is firm as a solid rock. This, of course, is the attitude of the Arahats, the Consummate Ones. Of them it is said: "Truly the good give up longing for everything. They prattle not with thoughts of craving. Touched by pain or happiness, the wise show neither elation nor depression. [25]

 

People of lesser attainment who understand the nature of human life and its ups and downs, who cultivate equanimity, can also face the vicissitudes of life with a brave heart. They see things in their proper perspective, how things come into being and pass away. Free from anxiety and restlessness, they can see the fragility of the fragile. Quiet minds ... go on, in fortune or misfortune, at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm. [26]

 

The proximate cause of equanimity is the understanding that all beings are the result of their actions (kamma). The direct enemy of upekkha is attachment and the indirect or the masked enemy is callousness or unintelligent indifference.

 

Understanding the working of kamma, action or moral causation, and how kamma comes to fruition (kamma-vipaka), is very necessary to cultivate equanimity. In the light of kamma one will be able to keep a detached attitude toward all beings, even inanimate things.

 

Upekkha puts aside both attachment (anurodha) and resentment (virodha). They are two extremes. The meditator who follows the Middle Path is neither attracted by the pleasant nor repelled by the unpleasant. He keeps a balanced mind without temper, tantrums, depression or anxiety.

 

As Wordsworth observed: "Strongest minds are often those of whom the noisy world hears least," and 2,500 and more years ago the Buddha said:

 

"Yes, emptiness is loud, but fullness calm;

 

The fool's a half-filled crock; the sage a lake." [27]

 

Metta embraces all beings; karuma embraces those who are suffering; mudita embraces the prosperous; and upekkha embraces both the good and bad, the loved and the unloved, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the ugly and the beautiful, without making any discrimination.

 

"... The meditator experiences joy, being joyful, the mind is concentrated. He dwells suffusing one direction with his heart filled with loving-kindness (metta). Likewise the second, the third, and the fourth direction, so above, below and around; he dwells suffusing the whole world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, grown great, measureless, without enmity, without ill will. He dwells with a heart full of compassion (karuma) ... sympathetic joy (mudita) ... equanimity (upekkha) ... without enmity, without ill will.

 

"It is as if there were a lovely lotus pond with clear water, sweet water, cool water, limpid, with beautiful banks; and a man were to come along from the east, west, north or south, overcome and overpowered by the heat, exhausted, parched and thirsty. On coming to that lotus pond he might quench his thirst with water and quench his feverish heat. Even so ... one who has come into this doctrine and discipline (dhamma-vinaya) taught by the Buddha, having thus developed loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, attains inner calm -- I say it is by inner calm that he is following the practices fitting for recluses (meditators)." (M. 40/I, 284)

 

 

 

ADDENDUM III

 

Right Effort

 

The function of right effort is fourfold: to prevent, abandon, develop and maintain. [28]

 

1. What is the effort to prevent?

 

"Herein a meditator puts forth his will to prevent the arising of evil, of unwholesome thoughts that have not yet arisen. He strives, develops energy and strengthens his mind (to this end).

 

"Herein a meditator, seeing a form, hearing a sound, smelling an odour, tasting a flavour, feeling some tangible thing or cognizing a mental object, apprehends neither signs nor particulars (that is, he is not moved by their general features or by their details). In as much as coveting and dejection, evil and unwholesome thoughts break in upon one who dwells with senses unrestrained, he applies himself to such control, he guards over the senses, restrains the senses. This is called the effort to prevent."

 

2. What is the effort to abandon?

 

"Herein a meditator puts forth his will to abandon the evil, unwholesome thoughts that have already arisen. He strives, develops energy and strengthens his mind (to this end).

 

"Herein a meditator does not admit sense desires that have arisen, but abandons, discards and repels them, makes an end of them and causes them to disappear. So also with regard to thoughts of ill will and of harm that have arisen. This is called the effort to abandon."

 

3. What is the effort to develop?

 

"Herein a meditator puts forth his will to produce and develop wholesome thoughts that have not yet arisen. He strives, develops energy and strengthens his mind (to this end).

 

"Herein a meditator develops the factors of enlightenment based on seclusion, on dispassion, on cessation that is deliverance, namely: mindfulness, investigation of the Dhamma, energy, rapturous joy, calm, concen-tration and equanimity. This is called the effort to develop."

 

4. What is the effort to maintain?

 

"Herein a monk maintains a favourable object of concentration (meditation). This is called the effort to maintain."

 

These then are the four efforts:

 

The unwholesome thoughts referred to here are the three root causes of evil namely: thoughts of lust (craving), hatred and delusion (lobha, dosa, moha). All other passions gather round these three root causes, while wholesome thoughts are their opposites.

 

The sole purpose of this fourfold effort is success in meditation. The four right efforts are the requisites for concentration. As we saw above, right effort is included in the groups of samadhi or concentradon. As such, right effort functions together and simultaneously with the other two factors of the group, namely right mindfulness and right concentration. Without right effort the hindrances [29] to mental progress cannot be overcome. Right effort removes the evil and unhealthy thoughts that act as a barrier to the calm of absorption, and promotes and maintains the healthy mental factors that aid the development of concentration.

 

 

 

ADDENDUM IV

 

Hindrances (Nivarama)

 

"There are, monks these five hindrances which cause blindness, loss of vision, and non-knowledge, which take away one's insight, are associated with pain and do not lead to Nibbana." [30]

 

"Nivarama" means those states which hinder and obstruct mental development. They are called hindrances because they completely close in, cut off and obstruct. They close the door to deliverance. What are the five?

 

1. Sense desire (kamacchanda),
2. Ill will (vyapada),
3. Sloth and torpor (thina-middha),
4. Restlessness and worry (uddhacca-kukkucca)
5. Sceptical doubt (vicikiccha).

 

1. Kamacchanda is lust for sense objects. Sensual thoughts definitely retard mental development. They disturb the mind and hinder concentration. Sensuality is due to non-restraint of the senses, which when unguarded gives rise to thoughts of lust so that the mind-flux is defiled. Hence the need for the meditator to be on his guard against this hindrance which closes the door to deliverance.

 

2. The next is ill will. As in the case of sense-desire, it is unwise and unsystematic attention that brings about ill will. When not checked, ill will propagates itself, saps the mind and clouds the vision. It distorts the entire mind and thus hinders awakening to truth, blocks the path to freedom. Lust and ill will, based on ignorance, not only hamper mental growth, but act as the root cause of strife and dissension between man and man and nation and nation.

 

3. The third hindrance is sloth and torpor, a morbid state of the mind and mental properties. It is not, as some are inclined to think, sluggishness of the body; for even the Arahats, the Consummate Ones, who are free from this ill, also experience bodily fatigue. This sloth and torpor, like butter too stiff to spread, makes the mind rigid and inert. It thus lessens the yogi's enthusiasm and earnestness for meditation so that he becomes mentally sick and lazy. Laxity leads to greater slackness until finally there arises a state of callous indifference.

 

4. The fourth hindrance is restlessness and worry, another disadvantage that makes progress difficult. When the mind becomes restless like flustered bees in a shaken hive, it cannot concentrate. This mental agitation prevents calmness and blocks the upward path. Worry is just as harmful. When a man worries over one thing and another, over things done or left undone, and over misfortunes, he can never have peace of mind. All this bother and worry, this fidgeting and unsteadiness of mind, prevent concentration. Hence these two drawbacks, restlessness and worry, are included in the five hindrances that retard mental progress.

 

5. The fifth and the last hindrance is sceptical doubt. The Pali word "vi + cikiccha" means literally "without (vigata) medicine (cikiccha)." The commentators explain this hindrance as the inability to decide anything definitely; it includes doubt with regard to the possibility of attaining the jhana, mental absorption. Perplexity is really a dire disease, and unless we shed our doubts, we will continue to suffer from it. As long as we continue to take a sceptical view of things, sitting on the fence, this will be most detrimental to mental development.

 

The mind that is obsessed by these five hindrances cannot concentrate successfully on any object of a wholesome nature. It is true that a man can concentrate on an object with thoughts of lust or ill will, etc.; but that is wrong concentration (micchasamadhi). As long as impurities or passions (kilesa) exist in man, evil and unwholesome thoughts will continue to arise. The meditator who practises samadhi, however, is incapable of committing any evil; for the hindrances are under control.

 

To overcome the hindrances, one has to develop five psychic factors known as factors of jhana (jhana~ga). They are: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha, and ekaggata. It is these psychic factors that raise the meditator from lower to higher levels of mental purity. The consciousness that is associated with them becomes known as jhana. These psychic factors, in order, step by step, subdue the hindrances that block the path of concentration. Each is the exact opposite of a specific hindrance.

 

Sense desire is subdued by ekaggata, one-pointedness or unification of the mind; ill will, by joy (piti); sloth and torpor, by applied thought (vitakka); restlessness and worry, by happiness (sukha); and doubt, by sustained thought (vicara).

 

When placed side by side, they stand thus:

 

Kamacchanda <--> Ekaggata
Vyapada <--> Piti
Thina-middha <--> Vitakka
Uddhacca-kukkucca <--> Sukha
Vicikiccha <--> Vicara

 

 

 

ADDENDUM V

 

Sona, the Earnest Meditator

 

There is the story of a monk, the Venerable Sona-kolivisa, [31] who was making a violent but unsuccessful effort to exert himself physically and mentally. Then the following thought occurred to him while in solitude: "The disciples of the Blessed One live with zealous effort and I am one of them. Yet my mind is not free of taints. My family has wealth; I can enjoy my riches and do good; what if I were to give up the training and revert to the low life, enjoy the riches and do good?"

 

The Blessed One reading his thoughts approached him and asked: "Sona, did you not think: 'The disciples of the Blessed One live with zealous effort (as before) ... and do good?' "Yes, Venerable Sir."

 

"And what do you think, Sona, were you not skilful at the lute before when you were a layman?" "Yes Venerable Sir."

 

"And, what do you think, Sona, when the strings of your lute were overstrung, was it then in tune and playable?" "No, indeed, Venerable Sir."

 

"And what do you think, Sona, when the strings of your lute were too slack, was it then in tune and playable?" "No, indeed, Venerable Sir."

 

"But when, Sona, the strings of your lute were neither overstrung nor too slack but keyed to the middle pitch was it then in tune and playable?" "Surely, Venerable Sir."

 

"Even so, Sona, effort when too strenuous leads to flurry and when too slack to indolence. Therefore, Sona, make a firm determination thus: Understanding the equality of the faculties," I shall grasp at the aim by uniformity of effort." "Yes, Venerable Sir."

 

The Venerable Sona followed the instructions of the Blessed One and in due course attained perfection and was numbered among the Arahats. [32]

 

 

 

ADDENDUM VI

 

The Removal of Distracting Thought

 

The twentieth discourse of the Majjhima Nikaya (Vitakka-samthana Sutta) gives practical instructions on how to keep away distracting thoughts, and is indispensable to a meditator. The gist of it is as follows. [33] The Buddha addressing his disciples said:

 

"Monks, the meditator who is intent on higher thought should reflect on five things from time to time. What five?

 

1. If through reflection on an object, evil, unwholesome thoughts associated with desire, hate and delusion arise in a meditator, he should (in order to get rid of them) reflect of another object which is wholesome. Then the evil, unwholesome thoughts are removed; they disappear. By their removal the mind stands firm and becomes calm, unified and concentrated within (his subject of meditation).

 

"As a skilled carpenter or his apprentice knocks out and removes a coarse peg with a fine one, so should the meditator get rid of that evil object by reflecting on another object which is wholesome. Then the evil unwholesome thoughts associated with desire, hate and delusion are removed, they disappear. By their removal the mind stands firm ... within.

 

2. "If the evil thoughts still arise in a meditator who reflects on another object which is wholesome, he should consider the disadvantages of evil thoughts thus: 'Indeed, these thoughts of mine are unwholesome, blameworthy, and bring painful consequences.' Then his evil thoughts are removed, they disappear. By their removal the mind stands firm ... within.

 

3. "If the evil thoughts still arise in a meditator who thinks over their disadvantages, he should pay no attention to, and not reflect on those evil thoughts. Then the evil thoughts are removed, they disappear. By their removal the mind stands firm ... within.

 

4. "If the evil thoughts still arise in a meditator who pays no attention to and does not reflect on evil thoughts, he should reflect on removing the root of those thoughts. Then the evil unwholesome thoughts are removed, they disappear. By their removal the mind stands firm ... within.

 

5. "If the evil thoughts still arise in a meditator who reflects on the removal of their root, he should with clenched teeth, and tongue pressed against his palate restrain, overcome and control the (evil) mind with the (good) mind. Then the evil thoughts are removed, they disappear. By their removal the mind stands firm ... within.

 

"If through a meditator's reflection on a wholesome object, thinking over disadvantages of evil thoughts, paying no attention to and not reflecting on evil thoughts, reflecting on the removal of their root, restraining, overcoming, and controlling the (evil) mind with the (good) mind with clenched teeth and tongue pressed against his palate, evil thoughts are removed, and the mind stands firm and calm, becomes unified and concentrated within (its subject of meditation) that meditator is called a master of the paths along which thoughts travel. He thinks the thought that he wants to think; he thinks not the thought that he does not want to think. He has cut off craving and removed the fetter fully; mastering pride he has made an end of suffering."

 

____________________ 

 

 

[23]   Sutta-Nipata v.721.

 

[24] Majjhima Nikaya 40/ I. 284.

 

[25] Dhammapada, v. 83.

 

[26] R. L. Stevenson.

 

[27] Sutta Nipata v.721

 

[28] Samvara, pahana, bhavana, anurakkhana

 

[29] See Addendum IV.

 

[30] Samyutta Nikaya v. 97.

 

[31] Vinaya Pitaka II. I ff; Anguttara Nikaya iii 374-5.

 

[32] This episode occurs in the Commentary to the Theragatha: "He received a subject of study from the Master, but was unable to concentrate, owing to his meeting people while he stayed in Cool Wood. And he thought: "My body is too delicately reared to arrive happily at happiness. A recluse's duties involve bodily fatigues.' So he disregarded the painful sores on his feet gotten from pacing up and down, and strove his utmost but was unable to win. And he thought: 'I am not able to create either path or fruit. Of what use is this religious life to me? I will go back to lower things and work merit. Then the Master discerned, and saved him by the lesson on the Parable of the Lute, showing him how to temper energy with calm. Thus corrected, he went to Vulture's Peak, and in due course won Arahatship." Psalms of the Brethen by Mrs Rhys Davids (PTS) p. 275.

 

[33] For brewity's sake all the similes but one are omitted. For a detailed account read: The Removal of Distracting Thoughts, trans. by Soma Thera (Kandy: BPS), Wheel 21.

 

 

____________________

 

 

 

 
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