Abhidhamma in Daily life
DIFFERENT DEGREES OF LOBHALobha,
attachment, leads to sorrow. When we really understand this, we would like
to eradicate lobha. The eradication of lobha, however, cannot be done at
once. We may be able to suppress lobha for a while, but it will appear
again when there are the right conditions for its arising. Even though
we know that lobha brings sorrow, it is bound to arise time and again.
However, there is a way to eradicate it: it can be eradicated by the wisdom
which sees things as they are.
When we study cittas more in detail
it will help us to know ourselves. We should know not only the coarse lobha
but also the degrees of lobha which are more subtle. The following sutta
gives an example of lobha which is more subtle. We read in the 'Kindred
Sayings' (I, Sagatha-vagga IX, Forest Suttas,par.14):
A certain monk was
once staying among the Kosalese
in a certain forest-tract.
Now while there that monk,
after he had returned from
his alms-round and had
broken his fast, plunged into
the lotus-pool and sniffed
up the perfume of a red lotus.
Then the deva who
haunted that forest-tract,
moved with compassion for
that monk, desiring his welfare,
and wishing to agitate
him, drew near and addressed
him in the verse:
'That blossom, water-born,
thing not given,
We should also know the more subtle
lobha which arises when we enjoy a fragrant smell or beautiful music. It
seems that there are no akusala cittas when we do not harm others, but
also the more subtle lobha is akusala; it is different from generosity
which is kusala. We cannot force ourselves not to have lobha, but we can
get to know the characteristic of lobha when it appears.
You stand sniffing up the scent
This is one class of things that
may be stolen.
And you a smell-thief must I call,
The Monk :
'Nay, nought I bear away, I nothing
Standing apart I smell the water's
Now for what reason am I smell-thief
One who does dig up water-lilies,
Who feeds on lotuses, in motley
Engaged: Why have you no such name
The Deva :
'A man of ruthless, wicked character,
Foul-flecked as is a handmaid's
With such the words I say have no
But this it is meet that I should
say (to you):
To him whose character is void of
Who ever makes quest for what is
What to the wicked but a hair-tip
To him does great as a rain-cloud
Not only the suttas, but the Vinaya
(Book of Discipline for the monks) also gives examples of lobha which is
more subtle. Each part of the teachings, the Vinaya, the Suttanta and the
Abhidhamma can help us to know ourselves better. When we read the Vinaya
we see that even the monks who lead a life of contentment with little,
still have accumulated conditions for lobha. Every time there was a case
where monks deviated from their purity of life, a rule was laid down in
order to help them to be more watchful. Thus we can understand the usefulness
of the rules, which go into even the smallest details of the monk's behaviour.
The rules help the monk to be watchful even when performing the most common
actions of daily life such as eating, drinking, robing himself and walking.
There are rules which forbid seemingly innocent actions like playing in
the water or with water (Pacittiya 53), or teasing other monks. Such actions
are not done with kusala cittas, but with akusala cittas.
We read in the Vinaya ('Suttavibhanga',
Pacittiya 85) that the monks should not enter a village at the wrong time.
The reason is that they would indulge more easily in worldly talk. We read:
Now at that time the group
of six monks, having
This passage is useful for laypeople
as well. We cannot help talking about worldly matters, but we should know
that our talking, even if it seems innocent, often is motivated by lobha-mula-cittas
or by dosa-mula-cittas (cittas rooted in aversion). In order to know ourselves
we should find out by what kind of citta our talking is motivated.
entered a village at the wrong time,
having sat down
in a hall, talked a variety of worldly
talk, that is to
say: talk of kings, of thieves,
of great ministers, of
armies, of fears, of battles, of
food, of drink, of clothes,
of beds, of garlands, of scents,
of relations, of vehicles,
of villages, of little towns, of
towns, of the country,
of women, of strong drink, of streets,
of wells, of those
departed before, of diversity, of
speculation about the
world, about the sea, on becoming
and not becoming
thus and thus....
Every time a lobha-mula-citta arises
lobha is accumulated. When the conditions are there, lobha can motivate
ill deeds through body, speech or mind. When we see to what kind of deeds
lobha can lead we shall feel a stronger urge to eradicate it.
Ill deeds are called in Pali: akusala
kamma. Kamma is the cetasika (mental factor arising with the citta) which
is 'intention' or 'volition’, in Pali: cetana. However, the word 'kamma'
is also used in a more general sense for the deeds which are intended by
cetana. The term 'kamma-patha' (literally 'course of action') is used as
well in this sense. There are akusala kamma-pathas and kusala kamma-pathas,
ill deeds and good deeds, accomplished through body, speech and mind. As
regards akusala kamma-patha, there are ten akusala kamma-pathas and these
are conditioned by lobha, dosa and moha. Moha, ignorance, accompanies every
akusala citta, it is the root of all evil. Thus, whenever there is akusala
kamma-patha, there must be moha. Some akusala kamma-pathas can sometimes
be performed with lobha-mula-citta and sometimes with dosa-mula-citta.
Therefore, when we see someone else committing an ill deed we cannot always
be sure which kind of citta motivates that deed.
The ten akusala kamma-pathas are
Killing, stealing and sexual misbehaviour
are three akusala kamma-pathas accomplished through the body. Lying, slandering,
rude speech and frivolous talk are four akusala kamma-pathas accomplished
through speech. Covetousness, ill-will and wrong view are three akusala
kamma-pathas accomplished through the mind. As regards akusala kamma-patha
through the body, killing is done with dosa-mula-citta. Stealing can sometimes
be performed with lobha-mula-citta and sometimes with dosa-mula-citta.
It is done with lobha-mula-citta if one wishes to take what belongs to
someone else in order to enjoy it oneself. It is done with dosa-mula-citta
if one wishes someone else to suffer damage. Sexual misbehaviour is Performed
10. Wrong view (ditthi)
Of the akusala kamma-pathas through
speech, lying, slandering and frivolous talk are performed with lobha-mula-citta
if one wishes to obtain something for oneself, or if one wishes to endear
oneself to other people. As regards lying, we may thing that there is no
harm in a so-called 'white lie' or a lie said for fun. However, all kinds
of lies are motivated by akusala cittas. We read in the 'Discourse on an
exhortation to Rahula at Ambalatthika’ (Middle Length Sayings II, no. 61,
Bhikkhu-vagga) that the Buddha spoke to his son Rahula about lying. The
Even so, Rahula, of anyone
for whom there is no
Lying can also be done with dosa-mula-citta
and this is the case when one wants to harm someone else.
shame at intentional lying, of him
I say that there is
no evil he cannot do. Wherefore,
for you, Rahula,
'I will not speak a lie, even for
fun' - - this is how
you must train yourself, Rahula.
As regards slandering, we all are
inclined to talk about other. When there is no intention to harm the reputation
of others, there is no akusala kamma-patha. However, when talking about
others becomes a habit, there can easily be an occasion for akusala kamma-patha.
This kind of akusala kamma-patha is performed with lobha-mula-citta if
one slanders in order to obtain something for oneself or to please others.
It is performed with dosa-mula-citta if one wants to harm someone else.
We will be less inclined to talk about others or to judge them when we
see ourselves and others as phenomena which arise because of conditions
and which do not stay. At the moment we talk about other people's actions,
these phenomena have fallen away already; What they said or did exists
Rude speech is performed with dosa-mula-citta.
Frivolous talk is talk about idle,
senseless things. This kind of talk can be performed with lobha-mula-citta
or by dosa-mula-citta. Frivolous talk is not always akusala kamma patha.
It can be done with by akusala citta which does not have the intensity
of akusala kamma-patha.
As regards akusala kamma-patha through
the mind, ill-will, the intention to hurt or harm someone else is performed
with dosa-mula-citta and covetousness and wrong view are performed with
lobha-mula-citta. There is akusala kamma-patha which is covetousness when
one intends to obtain what belongs to someone else by dishonest means.
As regards ditthi (wrong view), there are many kinds of ditthi; however,
three kinds of ditthi are akusala kamma-patha through the mind. One of
them is ahetuka-ditthi, the belief that there is no cause for the existence
of beings and no cause for their purity or corruption.
Another wrong view which is akusala
kamma-patha through the mind is akiriya-ditthi, the belief that there are
no good and bad deeds which produce their results.
The third wrong view which is akusala
kamma-patha through the mind is natthika-ditthi or nihilism. Natthika-ditthi
is the belief that there is no result of kamma and that there is no further
life after death.
All degrees of lobha, be it coarse
or more subtle, bring sorrow. We are like slaves as long as we are absorbed
in and infatuated by the objects which present themselves through eyes,
ears, nose, tongue, body-sense and mind. We are not free if our happiness
depends on the situation we are in, and the way others behave towards us.
One moment people may be kind to us, but the next moment they may be unpleasant.
If we attach too much importance to the affection of other, we shall be
easily disturbed in mind, and thus become slaves of our moods and emotions.
We can become more independent and
free if we realize that both we ourselves and other people are only nama
and rupa, phenomena arising because of conditions and falling away again.
When others say unpleasant things to us there are conditions which cause
them to speak in that way, and there are conditions which cause us to hear
such words. Other people's behaviour and our reactions to it are conditioned
phenonomena which do not stay. At the moment we are thinking about these
phenomena, they have already fallen away. The development of insight is
the way to become less dependent on the vicissitudes of life. When there
is mindfulness of the present moment, we attach less importance to the
way people behave towards us.
Since lobha is rooted so deeply,
it can only be eradicated in different stages. Ditthi has to be eradicated
first and then the other kinds of attachment can be eradicated. The
sotapanna (the person who has realized the first stage of enlightenment)
has eradicated ditthi; he has developed the wisdom which realizes that
all phenomena are nama and rupa, not self. Since he has eradicated ditthi,
the lobha-mula-cittas with ditthi do not arise any more. As we have seen,
four types of lobha-mula-citta arise with ditthi (they are ditthigata-sampayutta)
and four types arise without ditthi (they are ditthigata-vippayutta). As
for the sotapanna, the four types of lobha-mula-citta without ditthi still
arise; he has not yet eradicated all kinds of attachment. The sotapanna
still has conceit. Conceit can arise with the four types of lobha-mula-citta
which are without ditthi (ditthigata-vippayutta). There may be conceit
when one compares oneself with others, when one, for example, thinks that
one has more wisdom than others. When we consider ourselves better, equal
or less in comparison with others we may find ourselves important and then
there is conceit. When we think ourselves less than someone else it is
not necessarily kusala; there may still be a kind of upholding of ourselves
and then there is conceit. Conceit is rooted so deeply that it is eradicated
only when one has become an arahat.
The person who has realized the second
stage of enlightenment, the sakadagami (once-returner), has less lobha
than the sotapanna. The person who realized the third stage of enlightenment,
the anagami (never-returner), has no more clinging to the objects which
present themselves through the five senses, but he still has conceit and
he clings to rebirth. The arahat has eradicated lobha completely.
The arahat is completely free since
he has eradicated all defilements. We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (IV,
Salayatanavagga, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Third Fifty, Ch. IV, par. 136,
Not including), that the Buddha said to the monks, while he was staying
among the Sakkas at Devadaha:
Devas and mankind, monks,
delight in objects, they
But the Tathagata, monks, who is Arahat, a
are excited by objects. It is owing
to the instability,
the coming to an end, the ceasing
of objects, monks,
that devas and mankind live woefully.
in sounds, scents, savours, in touch,
they delight in
mindstates and are excited by them.
It is owing to
the instability, the coming to an
end, the ceasing of
mindstates, monks, that devas and
mankind live woefully.
fully-enlightened one, seeing as they really are, both
the arising and the destruction, the satisfaction, the
misery and the way of escape from objects, - - he delights
not in objects, takes not pleasure in them, is not excited
by them. It is owing to the instability, the coming to
an end, the ceasing of objects that the Tathagata dwells
at ease.. .
1. When the objective is not
dana (generosity), sila (morality) or bhavana (mental development), can
talking be done with kusala citta?
2. Which cetasika is kamma?
3. Which are the ten akusala
4. Are all kinds of ditthi
5. Why does attachment always
lead to sorrow?
6. Who has eradicated all
kinds of lobha?