The Mahasi Sayadaw
Posted 02 May 2006 - 01:18 AM
I thought I might post a list of weblinks to Mahasi Sayadaw's works that I have found on the Internet, as he is perhaps been the greatest force in spreading the Buddha's teaching on Vipassana in the modern age. Here's a start:
http://www.mahasi.org.mm/- Official site of Mahasi Sayadaw in Yangoon (many e-books)
http://www.mahasi.com - html versions of many of Mahasi Sayadaw's books in English.
http://www.aimwell.org - more on Mahasi Sayadaw, also very useful e-books and resources.
http://www.buddhanet.net/insight.htm - Insight Meditation Online
http://www.edhamma.com - audio from venerable Burmese Sayadaws.
Posted 02 May 2006 - 08:37 AM
Thank you for all this. I remember seeing a mahasi website that has several very good artciles refuting the idea that one must have attained lokiya jhana before attaining nibbana. Most of the articles were written by a bhiikhu disciple of Mahasi sayadaw. I cannot find the link anymore, do you happen to know whcih site it is?
Posted 02 May 2006 - 02:17 PM
Thank you for all this. I remember seeing a mahasi website that has several very good artciles refuting the idea that one must have attained lokiya jhana before attaining nibbana. Most of the articles were written by a bhiikhu disciple of Mahasi sayadaw. I cannot find the link anymore, do you happen to know whcih site it is?
The text you are speaking of is on the page http://www.mahasi.org.mm/treatises.htm It is the one labelled "Satipatthana Vipassana Meditation". The direct link to the PDF file is:
and the direct link to the HTML file is
Please let me know if there is any problem, I can't reach the site right now but it is normally hard to reach it. I've saved the file to the Wat Chom Tong site anyway, so you could perhaps more easily download the PDF from there. The link then to the list of books is:
and the direct link to this book is:
Also please note that it is the samatha jhanas which are denied as being necessary. As I have noted on the E-Sangha, vipassana jhana (aka lakkhanupanijjhana) is indeed necessary for nibbana, and is also lokiya jhana.
Posted 02 May 2006 - 03:26 PM
Yes I think that is what I was looking for. I think usually when we refer to lokiya jhanas it is meaning the samatha jhanas,.
It says in the Mahasi book that
Posted 03 May 2006 - 01:41 AM
I think usually when we refer to lokiya jhanas it is meaning the samatha jhanas,.
I suppose so... but it should be made clear that this is only an expedience of speech - in actuality, the meditation on the three characteristics is also surely lokiya jhana:
ekakanipata atthakatha 382 (CSCD)
"Meditation on the Characteristics" means 1) insight, 2) path and 3) fruition.
1) meditating on the characteristics of sankharas, headed by anicca, and so on is called insight meditation on the characteristics
2) when the duty of insight meditation on the characteristics has succeeded by way of the path, this is called path meditation on the characteristics
3) meditation on nibbana along with its characteristics of emptiness, signlessness and desirelessness is called fruition meditation on the characteristics.
The first only is lokiya, but it is still considered jhana, and still necessary for the arising of the other two.
This is how I perceive the matter. Mahasi Sayadaw himself has discoursed on the arising of vipassana jhana before the attainment of path and fruition (I don't have a source at hand anymore, but I will try to provide one), and of course U Pandita has also discoursed at some length in his book In This Very Life.
Posted 03 May 2006 - 04:22 AM
A very good quote. I am not sure, but in this quote isnt the jhana level only at the moments of magga and phala. Preceeding that there are moments of strong khanika samadhi at those instants when vipassana nana occurs, but I would not think these would be considered jhana level?
In the Atthasalini -I use The expositor PTS (translator : maung tin).
P58. Triplets in the Matika
"..leading to accumulation are those causes which by being accomplished go to, or lead a man, in whom they arise, to that round of rebirth"
It then defines these causes as "moral or immoral states". i.e akusala AND kusala. It notes that the way leading to dispersion is the Ariyan path (eightfactored path). There is then several chapters (total of 140 pages) that gives much details about the various types of kusala (wholesome consciousness). The last two chapters in this section explain all the different types of "MUNDANE" Jhanas.
The start of the next chapter is interesting: this is where it discusses the eight-fold path. The Discourse on LOKUTTARA (transcendental).
This is an interesting topic, I also had a look at the book by venerable Pandita and want to ask some questions - but in the Pali section. with respect
Posted 04 May 2007 - 08:15 AM
MOMENTARY CONCENTRATION AND PURIFICATION OF MIND
CRITICISMS AND REPLIES
By Kheminda Thera
(Abbreviations: A = A³guttara Nikæya; M = Manorathapþra¼ø (A³guttara Nikæya Commentary); D = Døgha Nikæya; S = Saµyutta Nikæya; Vis. Mag = Visuddhimagga (P.T.S.ed); Pm. = Paramatthamañjþsæ (Visuddhimagga Commentary), Mahæ ¿økæ; P.P. = Path of Purification (Ñænamoli Thera’s translation).
There are three kinds of concentration mentioned in the commentaries: “When bliss is conceived and matured it perfects the threefold concentration, that is, momentary concentration, access concentration, and absorption concentration” (1) Of these, momentary concentration is the shortest in duration; next comes access concentration; and thirdly absorption concentration + which lasts the longest.
By way of occurrence, however, for the jhæna-attainer developing insight, access concentration comes first; next comes fixed or absorption concentration followed by momentary concentration thus:
1. “And it (access concentration) is the unification that precedes absorption concentration”. (2)
2. “Then it (concentration) is of two kinds as access and absorption”. (3) On this the Paramatthamañjþsæ comments: “Applied thought that occurs as though absorbing (append to)” associated states in the object is absorption (appanæ). Accordingly it is described as absorption “absorbing (appanæ vyappana)” (M.III, 73). Now since it is most important, the usage of the commentaries is to call all exalted and unsurpassed jhæna states “absorption” (as well as applied thought itself), and likewise to apply the term of common usage “access” to the limited (i.e. sense-sphere) jhæna that heralds the arising of the former, just as the term “village access” etc. is applied to the neighbourhood of a village. (4)
3. (a) “Concentrating (samædahaµ) the (manner of) consciousness: evenly (samam) placing (ædahanto) the mind, evenly putting it on its object by means of the first jhæna and so on. Or alternatively, when, having entered upon those jhænas and emerged from them, he comprehends with insight the consciousness associated with the jhæna as liable to destruction and to fall, then at the actual time of insight momentary unification of the mind arises through the penetration of the characteristics (of impermanence, and so on)”. (5) And the comment of the Paramatthamañjusæ is ( “Momentary unification of the mind”: Concentration lasting only for a moment. For that too, when it occurs uninterruptedly on its object in a single mode and is not overcome by opposition, fixes the mind immovably as if in absorption. (6)
4. (a) “These sounds are evident even to the normal consciousness” (7) on which the Pm. comments: ( “This momentary-concentration consciousness, which owing to the fact that the preliminary work contingent upon the sound has been performed, occurs in one who has attained the basic jhæna and emerged for the purpose of arousing the divine ear element.” (8)
In a recent publication entitled “The Progress of Insight by Mahæsø Sayædaw U Sobhana Mahæthera of Myanmar” being “a treatise on Buddhist Satipa¥¥hæna Meditation”, and translated from the original Pæ¹i into English by Ña¼aponika Mahæthera, there appears on p.5 of that work, the following passage:
“But is it not said in the Commentaries that the term ‘Purification of Mind’ applies only to Access Concentration and Fully Absorbed Concentration? That is true, but one has to take this statement in the sense that Momentary Concentration is included in Access Concentration.” For in the Commentary to the Satipa¥¥hæna Sutta it is said: “The remaining twelve exercises are subjects of meditation leading only to Access Concentration” “Now in the case of the subjects dealt with in the sections of the Satipa¥¥hæna Sutta on Postures, Clear Comprehension and Elements, the concentration of one who devotes himself, to these exercises will be definitely only Momentary Concentration. But as the latter is able to suppress the Hindrances just as Access Concentration does, and since it is in the neighbourhood of the Noble-path attainment-concentration, therefore that same Momentary Concentration is spoken of by the name of ‘access’ (or Neighbourhood), and also the meditation subjects that produce that Momentary Concentration are called ‘meditation subjects leading to Access Concentration. Hence it should be taken that Momentary Concentration, having the capacity to suppress the Hindrances, has also the right to the name ‘Access’ and ‘Purification of Mind’. Other-wise ‘Purification of Mind’ could not come about in one who has made Bare Insight his vehicle, by employing only Insight, without having produced either Access Concentration of Fully Absorbed Concentration”.
Some of the points raised in this paragraph are discussed below:
A. The author, while admitting that the commentaries state that “the term ‘Purification of Mind’ applies only to Access Concentration and Fully Absorbed Concentration”, introduces the view that “Momentary Concentration is included in Access Concentration”,
The reader will note that according to the passage quoted at 3(a) and 4( above momentary Concentration cannot be included in Access Concentration. Momentary Concentration is shown there definitely, and in plain language, to emerge after jhæna-attainment during the actual time of insight practice done by one who has risen from jhæna.
In this connection, the author cites on p-4 a passage from the commentary to the Visuddhi-magga (Paramatthamañjþsæ) reproduced at 3( above, to indicate it seems, the strength of Momentary Concentration. And he mentions without realising the implication, or in spite of it, that the passage he cites is in ‘explanation of the Chapter relating to Respiration Mindfullness’. The reader known that Respiration Mindfullness is a serenity (samatha) subject of meditation. And Bare Insight, the author claims, has no truck with jhæna. Furthermore, this passage from the Paramatthamañjþsæ is none other than the comment on this very passage of the Visuddhimagga, reproduced at 3 (a) above, which declares that Momentary Concentration emerges “at the actual time of insight” under taken by the newly risen jhæna-attainer.
B. The author further asserts that “in the case of the subjects dealt with in the sections of the Satipa¥¥hæna Sutta on Postures, Clear Comprehension and Elements, the concentration of one who devotes himself to these exercises will be definitely only Momentary Concentration (ekantena kha¼ikasamædhi yeva næma)”. In support of this assertion he does not cite any authority. Mere assertions, however, do not carry conviction. They are, on the other hand, rejected as unworthy of consideration. It is perhaps helpful to remember here the Buddha’s instruction that concentration attained walking up and down lasts long. The commentary explains this as one of the eight attainments (samæpatti). (9)
C. “Momentary Concentration, having the capacity to suppress the Hindrances, has also the right to the name ‘Access’ and ‘Purification of Mind’.” This seems to be a rather poor attempt to counter the charge that the new Myanmar method of meditation based on the movement of the abdomen is bereft of the ‘Purification of Mind’. In fact the published Sinhala translation of a sermon delivered by U Sujæta Thera, the Myanmar pupil and accredited representative in Ceylon recently of U Sobhana Mahæthera, completely ignores the ‘Purification of Mind’. It states that there are these six purifications, namely: (1) purification of view (di¥¥hi-visuddhi), (2) purification of transcending doubt (ka³khævitarana-visuddhi), (3) purification of knowledge (and vision) or what is and is not the path (maggæ-mgagañæ¼æ (dassana) visuddhi), (4) purification of knowledge (and vision) of practice (pa¥ipædæñæ¼a (dassana) visuddhi); (5) purification of virtue (sølavissuddhi), (6) purification of the knowledge of rise and fall (udayavyayañæ¼avisuddhi). Having produced mundane purification, to convert it to supra-mundane purification, one would produce insight”.
This list has only six purifications, and it eliminates the purification of mind or consciousness which is the main subject under discussion here, and the purification of knowledge and vision; the purification of virtue which is the first is shifted to the fifth place; and a new purification, ‘the purification of knowledge of rise and fall’ is introduced. In addition to these six purifications two more, viz. mundane purification and supramundane purification, are mentioned. But though in the treatise here discussed the seven purifications are correctly mentioned in due order a new definition of the purification of mind or consciousness is put forward. And this is done arbitrarily.
D. “And since it is in the neighbourhood of the Noble-path attainment-concentration, there-fore that same Momentary Concentration is spoken of by the name of ‘Access’ (or Neighbourhood), and also the meditation subjects that produce the Momentary Concentration are called ‘meditation subjects leading to Access Concentration”. But ‘neighbourhood of the Noble-path-attainment-concentration’ is in the post-jhæna sphere. The author, while insisting on tarrying in the non-jhænic sphere which he claims for bare insight, tries to appropriate the benefits of the jhænic sphere and of those beyond it to which he is not entitled. Since he is clinging to an imaginary sphere of contemplation he can only expect to reap imaginary results thereby, results which are not in the realm of fact but of fiction.
E. “Hence it should be taken that Momentary Concentration, having the capacity to suppress the Hindrances, has also the right to the name ‘Access’ and ‘Purification of Mind”. At D above the author admits that momentary concentration is in the neighbourhood of the path. But one does not go to the neighbourhood of the path to attain ‘Purification of Mind’. On the contrary ‘Purification of Mind’ has to precede the approach to the neighbourhood of the path both for him whose vehicle is serenity (samathayænika) and for him whose vehicle is bare insight (suddhavipassanæyænika) according to the Visuddhimagga at the beginning of the chapter on the purification of view (di¥¥hivisu-ddhi). (11) One whose vehicle is bare insight remains in that category even after attaining the consummate state. (12) One only hopes that the new Myanmar method of meditation does not insist further that when he whose vehicle is bare insight attains to the consummate state he is still bereft of jhæna, for all first path-attainers (maggalæbhi) are jhæna-attainers. The Buddha says that only one who has the five faculties (pañcindriya) at least at minimum strength can attain the plane of the noble ones (ariyabhþmi); and he in whom these five faculties are entirely absent is an outsider (bahiro), standing amidst the hosts of commoners (puthujjanapakkhe thito), (13) and the fifth of these faculties is that concentration (samædhindriya) defined by the Buddha as the four jhænas; (14) the power of concentration with which the noble one (ariya) is endowed is also defined as the four jhænas; (15) and right concentration of the noble one consists of the four jhænas. (16)
F. “Otherwise ‘Purification of Mind’ could not come about in one who has made Bare Insight his vehicle, by employing only Insight, without having produced either Access Concentration or Fully Absorbed Concentration.”
Assuming that the ‘Purification of Mind’ of the doer of pure (or bare) insight comes about ‘without having produced either Access Concentration or Fully Absorbed Concentration, the author has tried to show how it is supposed to happen. In this attempt he has dislodged ‘Momentary Concentration’ from its rightful place, and has succeeded in producing a mist of confusion, which he tries to clear away with a series of arguments. He finally comes to the conclusion embodied in the last sentence of the section on ‘Purification of Mind’ at p.5 of his treatise and which is reproduced above. But since he begins with the dislodgment, and in the process alters the nature and function of an important term under discussion, the arguments deduced from this position are invalid as is his conclusion. However, some of these arguments are discussed in paragraphs B to E and shown to be untenable for other reasons as well. Purification of Mind, indeed, could not come about in one who has made Bare Insight his vehicle by employing only Insight, without having produced either Access Concentration or Fully Absorbed Concentration.
According to the Visuddhimagga insight begins only after one has been establish in the purification of virtue (Sølavisuddhi) and the purification of consciousness (cittavisuddhi). They are compared to the root, and the five purifications of view (di¥¥hivisuddhi) are compared to the trunk, of a tree. (17)
One wishing to accomplish the last five purifications, whether he is one whose vehicle is serenity or one whose vehicle is insight, begins doing insight at the purification of view, because this twofold division of serenity and insight manifests itself only at the third purification, i.e., that of view and not before. But on p.2 of his treatise the author says: “When purification of conduct has been established, the meditator who has chosen pure Insight as his vehicle should endeavour to contemplate the Body-and-Mind (næma-rþpa) In doing so, he should contemplate, according to their characteristics the five Groups of Grasping, i.e., the bodily and mental processed that become evident to him in his own life-continuity (at his own six sense-doors)”. If the meditator follows this method he renders himself incapable of being established in the purification of view (di¥¥hivisuddhi). And the Pm. is very clear on this: “By mere knowledge alone one is not established in the purification of consciousness.+ Without being established therein it is not possible to accomplish the higher purification”, (18) which is the purification of view. And according to one commentary purification of consciousness is explained as the thoroughly mastered eight attainments which is the proximate cause of insight. (19)
Now it is common knowledge that a proximate cause always precedes and is never preceded by the thing of which it is the cause. And another commentary, becoming more precise, says that the purification of consciousness means right concentration, and we have seen already that it is explained as the four jhænas. (20) But nowhere has purification of consciousness been explained as momentary concentration. To meet this situation the author tries to saddle momentary concentration with a role which never belonged to it, and which it is incapable of fulfilling for each purification has its special place and function. They cannot be interchanged.
1. P.P.150 (=Vis. Mag. 144; Sukhaµ gabbhaµ ganhantaµ paripakaµ gacchantaµ tividhaµ samædhim paripþreti, kha¼ikasamædhim, upacærasamædhim, appanæsamædhim ti.)
2. P.P.86. (=Vis. Mag. 85; Yæca appanæsamædhim pubbabhæge ekaggatæ-ayaµ upacærasamæ-dhi).
3. P.P.85. (=Vis. Mag. 85: Upacæraappanævasena duvidho).
4. PM. 91: Sampayuttadhamme ærammane appento viya pavattatøti vitakko apanæ. Tattha hi so appana vyappna ti nidi¥¥ho. Tappa-mukhatavasena pana sabbasmim mahaggatanttare Jhænadha-mme appanæti a¥¥hakathævohæro. tatha tassa anuppatti-tthænabhþte parittajjhæne upacæravohæro. Gamadinaµ samipatthane gæmupacarædi samanna vyati aha-upacærappanavasena duvidho ti.
5. P.P.311-12 (=Vis. Mag 289: Samædahaµ cittaµ ti pa¥hamajjhænædivasena æramma¼e cittaµ samaµ ædahanto, samaµ thapento, tæni væ pana jhænæni samæpajjitvæ vuh¥¥æya, jhænasaµ payuttaµ cittaµ, khayato vayato sampassato, vipassanækkhane lakkha¼a-pa¥ivedhena uppajjati-kha¼ikacitt’ ekaggatæ evain uppa¼¼æya khamika cittakaggatæya vasena pi ærammane cittaµ samaµ ædahanto, samaµ thapento; samædahaµ cittaµ assasissæmi passasissæmi ti sakkhatø ti vuccati.
6. Pm. 278: Kha¼ikacittekaggatæ ti kha¼amatta¥¥hitiko samædhi. So pi hi æramma¼e niranta-raµ ekækærena pavattamæno pa¥ipakkhena anabhibhþto appito viya cittaµ niccalaµ ¥hapeti.
7. P.P. 447 (=Vis. Mag-408: Tassa te saddæ pakatikacittassæ pi pæka¥æ honti, parikammasa-mædhicittassa pana ativiya pæka¥æ.)
8. PM. 402: Parikammasamædhicittassa ti dibbasotadhætuyæ uppadanatthaµ pædakajjhænaµ samæpajjitvæ vu¥¥hitassa saddaµ ærabbha parikammakara¼avasena pavattakkha¼ikasamæ-dhicittassa.
9. A. III, 30: Cankamadhigato samædhi ciratthitiko hoti. (=Cankamadhigato samædhiti canka-maµ adhitthahantena adhigato atthannaµ samæpattinaµ aññatarasamædhi-Mp (Sinh.ed) p. 616).
10. Kanduboda Vipassanæ Bhavana Magazine, 1956, p. 32:
11. Vis. Mag. 587.
12. Vis Mag. 702: (Referring to the attainment of cessation) (Ke taµ samæpajjanti ke na samæpajjantø ti sabbe pi puthujjanæ sotæpannæ sakadægæmino, sukkhavipassakæ ca anægæmino arahanto na samæpajjanti. A¥¥ha samæpattilæbhino pana anægæmino khænæsavæ ca samæpajjanti.
13. S. V. 202: Imæsaµ kho bhikkhave pañcannaµ indriyænaµ samatta paripuratta arahaµ hoti, tato mudutarehi arahattaphalasacchikiriyæya patipanno hoti, tato mudutarehi anægæmihoti, tato mudutarehi anægæmiphalasacchikiriyæya patipanno hoti, tato mudutarehi sakadægæmi hoti, tato mudutarehi hoti, tato mudutarehi sakadægæmiphalasacchikiriyæya patipanno hoti, tato mudutarehi sotæpannaphalasa-cchikiriyæna patipanno hoti. Yassa kho bhikkhave imæni pañcindriyæni sabbena sabbaµ sabbatha sabbaµ natthi tamahaµ bahiro puthujjanapakkhe thito yadæmi ti.
14. S.V. 196: Kattha ca bhikkhave samædhindriyaµ da¥¥habbaµ Catþsu jhænesu.
15. S.V. 220: Yaµ samædhindriyaµ taµ samædhibalam.
16. D.II. 313.
17. Vis. Mag. 443: Ettha pana yasmæ imæya paññæya khandh-æyatana-dhætu-indriyasacca- pa¥iccasamuppædædibheda dhammæ bhþmi. Silavisuddhi ceva cittavisuddhi ca ti imæ dve visuddhiyo mþlam. Di¥¥hivisuddhi ñæ¼adassanavi-suddhi ti imæ pañca visuddhiyo sarøram. Tasmæ tesu bhþmib-hþ tesu dhammesu uggaha-paripucchævasena ñæ¼aparicayaµ ka¥væ mþlabhþta dve visuddhiyo sampædetvæ sarørabhætæ pañcavisuddhiyo sampædentena bahævetabbæ.
18. Pm. 744: Nahikevalena jænanamattena cittavisuddhiyaµ pati¥¥hito næma hoti. Na ca tattha apati¥¥hæya upari visuddhim sampædetum sakkæti.
19. Sv. III. 1062: PTS-a I, 127
20. PTS-a. III. 609.
By Sayædaw U Ñænuttra Agga Mahæ Pa¤ðita+
A = A³guttara Nikæya;
AC = Manorathapþra¼ø, A³guttara Commentary;
ASC = Særatthamañjþsæ, A³guttara Sub-Commentary;
DSC = Atthasælini, Dhammasa³ga¼ø Commentary;
M = Majjhima Nikæya;
MC = Papañcasþdanø, Majjhima Commentary;
MSC = Majjhima Sub-Commentary;
Ps = Pa¥isambhidæmagga;
PsC = Saddhammappakæsinø, Pa¥isambhidæmagga Commentary;
SC = Særatthappakæsinø, Saµyutta commentary;
Vism = visuddhi-magga;
VismC = Paramatthamañjþsæ, Mahæ Tikæ, Visuddhi-magga Commentary.
It is indeed regrettable that the Ven. Kheminda Thera of Ceylon takes a lopsided view of momentary concentration and purification of mind. (Refer to his article under the above caption in the July 1966 issue of World Buddhism).Was he inspired by prejudice? If so, it is certainly detrimental not only to himself but to all those who, in the Buddha Sæsana, are making efforts, in right earnest, to abandon the four wrong courses of life (agati), and get rid of all defilements.
In The Progress of Insight (page 2), the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw writes: “Alluding to the latter class of persons (Suddha-Vipassanæ-yænika)”, the Papañca-sþdanø, commenting on the Dhamma-dæyæda Sutta in the Majjhima-Nikæya, says: “Herein some persons proceed directly with the contemplation of the five Groups of Grasping as having the characteristics of being impermanent and so forth, without having previously developed Tranquility as mentioned in the method called “Preceded by Tranquility” (Samatha-pubba³gamæ)(1)
There are, of course, three kinds of concentration: momentary concentration, access concentration and absorption concentration. In the above passage, it is clearly stated that contemplation is done without having previously developed access concentration and absorption concentration, and so purification of mind comes about by momentary concentration.
The Ven. Kheminda Thera takes no notice of this Commentary and allows himself to be carried away by his own bias. It should be noted that the Papañca-sþdanø, Majjhima Nikæya Commentary, is not a commentary written in Myanmar. It is a commentary translated from Sinhalese into Pæ¹i by Buddhaghosa over 1,500 years ago. Therefore the contemplation method based on momentary concentration is neither new nor Myanmar. It is quite ancient and may even be called the old Ceylon Method. It has stood the test of time.
If the Commentary passage is not clear enough, its Sub-commentary will throw clearer light.
“Of the two contemplations, the first is preceded by Samatha and the second by Vipassanæ”. (2)
“Without having previously developed tranquility’ precludes access concentration. It does not exclude momentary concentration, because vipassanæ contemplation is not possible without momentary concentration”. (2)
It is surely quite clear from this Sub-Commentary that a Suddha-vipassanæ-yænika (one who has pure insight as his vehicle) contemplates by means of momentary concentration without having previously developed access concentration and absorption concentration. The Commentary as well as the Sub-Commentary further shows that Suddha-vipassanæ-yænika is capable of attaining arahatta magga-phala, making abundantly clear that purification of mind is possible by means of momentary concentration.
There should be no doubt about this as the Papañca-sþdanø relies on the A³guttara Nikæya (3). The relevant passage is translated as follows in Gradual Sayings (P.T.S). Part II (page 162). “Again, a monk develops calm preceded by insight. In him developing calm preceded by insight is born the Way. He follows along that Way, making it grow, makes much of it. In him following, developing, making much of that Way, the fetters are abandoned, the lurking tendencies come to an end.”
Its Commentary states: “ ‘Preceded by insight’ means insight that precedes, leads to calm, and one who primarily develops insight thereby produces calm.” (4)
Its Sub-Commentary states: “In the tenth sutta a man develops insight preceded by calm means Samatha-yænika. In the Samatha-yænika arises first either access concentration or absorption concentration. That concentration is calm. He then contemplates the impermanence and so forth of that calm and the associated states. This contemplation is insight. The development of calm precedes insight, therefore it is said that “a man develops insight preceded by calm.”
“A man develops calm preceded by insight” means Vipassanæ-Yænika. Without previous development of calm, he proceeds directly with the contemplation of the five Groups of Grasping as having the characteristics of being impermanent and so forth .... “the fetters are abandoned, the lurking tendencies come to an end” means the fetters are abandoned by mode of progress of the Way and thereby the lurking tendencies are brought to an end.” (5)
Thus, the A³guttara Text, Commentary and Sub-commentary, clearly show that a Vipassanæ-yænkia can proceed directly with insight exercises without previous development of access concentration and absorption concentration, and thereby can develop not only Vipassanæ ñæ¼a but also Magga-phala ñæ¼a.
The aforesaid A³guttara passage is explained thus in the Pa¥isambhidæmagga; “How is the calm, preceded by insight, developed? Contemplation of anicca is insight; contemplation of dukkha ... anatta is insight. At the moment (of realisation of the Way), Nibbæna being the object, calm comes about. Thus insight comes first, and calm follows. It is therefore said, a man develops calm, preceded by insight”. (6)
This passage also clearly shows that insight precedes calm. However, a question may be raised whether that calm is Vipassanæ samædhi, Ariya-magga-samædhi or Lokiya-jhæna-samædhi? The answer is found in the Papañca-sþdanø Commentary and Sub-Commentary.
“Here some persons contemplate the five Groups of Grasping as having the characteristics of impermanence and so forth without having previously developed concentration (access absorption). A person contemplating in this manner attains samædhi at the moment of realisation of the Way, Nibbæna being the object. This (magga) samædhi is calm.” (7)
Its Sub-Commentary states: “The attainment of full insight” means insight of discernment leading to uprising. ‘What occurs at that moment’ means Samædi¥¥hi etc. that occurs at the moment of realisation of the Way. ‘Vivssagga being the object’ means Nibbæna being the object. ‘Citta-ekaggatæ’ means Magga-sammæ-samædhi”. (8)
The Commentary as well as the Sub-Commentary referred to above explains clearly that concentration developed after insight is Ariya-magga samædhi.
The Pa¥isambhidæmagga Commentary states: “One-pointedness of mind, meaning thereby access and absorption concentration, comes about. That is the penetrating concentration that develops after insight.” (9)
It appears that this concentration is Lokiya-jhæna-samædhi and access concentration that heralds it. If it were so, it will not agree with the sense conveyed by the Papañca-sþdanø Commentary and Sub-Commentary. In particular, it will be hard to reconcile with the words “The dhamma that arise at the moment”. So the concentration in this passage should be Ariya-magga samædhi that is developed after insight. Whether this concentration is taken to be either access-absorption concentration or Ariya-magga samædhi, there is no disagreement on the point that there is no access-absorption concentration before the development of insight. So it is decidedly not open to a controversy that insight development is possible without previous concentration development.
It is also very clear that because insight can be developed without having previously developed concentration, purification of mind is attainable by means of momentary concentration.
At the beginning of Di¥¥hi-visuddhi-niddesa of the Visuddhi-magga will be seen “one whose vehicle is pure insight”, The word “pure” should be noted. By this is meant bare insight or insight without previous concentration (page 680, Bhikkhu Ñæ¼amoli’s translation).
In the Paramatthamañjþsæ, Mahæ ¿økæ, it is stated: “Concentration is a vehicle. One who has this vehicle is Samatha-yænika. It is the name given to one who develops insight after establishing himself either in jhæna or access to jhæna”. (10)
(Please note that this passage clearly shows that the yogø who attains purification of mind by access-concentration or absorption concentration is known as Samatha-yænika)
“Samatha-yænika develops insight after previous concentration development. Vipassanæ-yænika proceeds directly with insight without having previously developed concentration;” he is therefore defined as “one who has pure insight in his vehicle”, and “one who has a vehicle that is not associated with development of concentration i.e. “access concentration or absorption concentration.” (10)
(1) MC (I,113). Idha pan’ekacco vuttappakæraµ samathaµ anuppædetvæ’va pañcupædakkhan-dhe aniccæ-døhi vipassati.
(2) MSC. (I, 204) Tattha pathamo samathayænikassa vasena vutto, dutiyo vipassaæyænikassa. Samathaµ anuppædetvæ ‘væ’ ti avadhæranena upacærasamædhim nivatteti, na kha¼ikasamædhim; na hi kha¼ikasamædhim vinæ vipassanæ sambhavati.
(3) A. (I.475) Puna c’aparaµ ævuso bhikkhu vipassanæ-pubba³gamaµ samathaµ bhæveti, tassa vipassanæ-pubba³gamaµ samathaµ bhævayato magga sañjæyati. So taµ maggaµ asevati bhæveti bahuli-karoti, tassa taµ maggaµ asevato bhævayat bahuli-karoti saµyojanæni pahiyanti, anusayæ vyanti honti.
(4) AC. (II.346) Vipassano-pubba³-gaman’ti; vipassanaµ pubbangamaµ purecærikaµ katvæ samathaµ bhæveti, pakatiyæ vipassanæ-læbhø vipassanæya thatvæ samatha uppædeti’ti attho.
(5) ASC. (II. 344) Dasame “samatha-pubba³gamaµ vipassanaµ bhævetø” ti idaµ samatha-yænikassa vasena vuttaµ. So hi pathamaµ upacærasamædhim væ appanæ-samædhim væ uppædeti, ayaµ samatho. So ta³ca taµ sampayutte ca dhamme aniccædihi vipassati, ayaµ vipassanæ, Iti pathamaµ samatho, pacchæ vipassanæ ‘enavuccati “samatha-pubba³gamaµ vipassanaµ bhævatø” ti. “Vipassanæ-pubba³gamaµ samathaµ bhæveti” ti idaµ pana vipassanæyænikassa vasena vuttaµ. So taµ vuttappakaraµ samathaµ asampædetvæ pa³cupædanakkhandhe aniccædøhi vipassati — “Saµyo-janæni pahøyanti, anusayæ vyanti hontø” ti: maggapaipætiyæ pahøyanti, vyanti honti.
(6) Ps. (287). Kathaµ vipassanæ-pubba³gama³ samathaµ bhæveti? aniccato anupassantthena vipassanæ, dukkhato — anattato anupassanatthena vipassanæ. Tattha jætænaµ dhammænañca vosa-ggarammanatæ cittassa ekaggatæ avikkhepo samædhi, Iti pathamaµ vipassanæ, pacchæ samatho, tena vuccati “vipassanæ-pubba³gamaµ samathaµ bhævetø” ti, (Yuganaddhakathæ).
(7) MC, (I, 113) Idha pan’ekacco vuttappakæraµ samathaµ anuppædetvæ’ væ pañcupæda-nakkhandhe aniccædøhi vipassati. Tassa vipassanæ-pæripþriyæ tattha jætænaµ dhammænaµ vosaggara-mmanato upajjati cittassa ekaggatæ, ayaµ samatho.
(8) MSC. (I,204) Vipassanæ-pæri-pþriyæ’ti: vipassanæya pæripþriyæ vutthæna-gæminibhævappattiyæ. Tattha jætæman’ti: tasmim ariyamaggakkhane uppannænaµ summædi¥¥hiædinaµ dhammænam. Vavasagga-rammanato’ti: vavassagassa ærammanatæya — nibbænassa æramma¼a-karanenæ’ ti attho. Cittassa ekaggatæ’ti magga sammæsamædhim’æha.
(9) PsC (II, 188). Yo cittassa ekaggatæsa³khæto upacær-appanabhedo avikkhepo, so samædhø’ti vipassanæto pacchæ uppædito nibbedhabhægiyo samædhi niddittho hoti.
(10) VismC (II,350) Samathova yænaµ samatha-yænam, taµ etassa atthi’ti samathayæniko jhæne væ jhænupacære væ patitthæya vipassanaµ anuyunjantass’etaµ nænam. (Ibid 351) Samatha-yænikassa samathamukhena vipassanæbhiniveso, vipassanæ-yænikassa pana samathaµ anissæyæ’ti æha “suddha-vipassanæ-yæniko” ti, samatha-bhævanæya amissita-vipassanæ-yænavæ’ti attho.
Letter to the Eitor
PURIFICATION OF MIND
With regard to the contribution in your July 1966 issue on the subject of “Momentary Concentration and Purification of Mind” by the Ven. Kheminda Thera, I am surprised to find a Thera of the Ven. Kheminda’s scriptural erudition giving the impression of supporting the view that jhænic attainment is an absolute prerequisite for success in Vipassanæ.
Were he to be right in this assertion, there would not be in the Pæ¹i language such expressions as Vipassanæ-yænika or sukkha-vipassaka or Suddha-vipassanæ-yænika, which mean the attainment through Vipassanæ of the Ariya-magga (the transcendental Path) directly, without passing through any of the Jhænic states.
While it might be usual with most of the Yogavacaras given to ‘mental culture’ to pass through Jhænas en route from the Puthujjana state to Vipassanæ, the fact of some reaching Vipassanæ and the final state of Bodhi directly has but to be accepted.
I have had the occasion to discuss the above subject with several high-ranking Mahæ Theras, who said that Jhænas could safely be shunted off in some cases to reach the Magga attainment. Also, it is of interest to know that Shwe Zan Aung in his Compendium of Philosophy (Pæ¹i Text Society, 1910) emphatically observed: “It must be borne in mind that Jhæna is not absolutely necessary to Arahantship” p.55.
No matter whether the route to Bodhi is through Samatha-Vipassanæ-yuganaddha or directly through Vipassanæ, the Purification of Mind is essential. Sati is common to all mental culture to Samatha as well as to Vipassanæ. While the terms Upacæra and Appanæ are used in connection with the former, the term Kha¼ika is used in connection with the latter. By the time these states of Samædhi are reached, the mind is already purified.
Concerning the objection to the use of the term Kha¼ika-samædhi as a kind of Upacæra-samædhi, the objection, technically speaking seems valid, but, really speaking, is not valid. For certainly, as there needs to be a state of ‘access’ before ‘absorption’ into the Lokuttaræ Path, Upacæra could be used in that general sense. It is obviously in this sense that the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw has used the term Kha¼ika-samædhi or Momentary Concentration in his The Progress of Insight.
President, W.F.B. Centre,
By Sayædaw U Ñænuttra Agga Mahæ Pa¤ðita
A = A³guttara Nikæya:
AC = Manorathapþra¼i, A³guttara Commentary;
ASC = Særatthamañjþsa, A³guttara Sub-Commentary;
DhC = Atthasælinø, Dhammasa³ganø Commentary;
M = Majjhima Nikæya;
MC = Papañcasþdanø, Majjhima Commentary;
MSC = Majjhima Sub-Commentary;
Ps = Pa¥isambhidæmagga;
PsC = Saddhammappakæsinø,
SC = Særatthappakæsinø, Saµyutta Commentary;
Vism = Visuddhi-magga;
VismC = Særatthappakæsinø, Saµyutta Commentary;
VismC = Paramatthamañjþsæ, Mahæ ¿økæ, Visuddhi-magga Commentary.
The relevant passages taken out of the Pæ¹i Texts, commentaries and Sub-Commentaries have most clearly shown that there are two kinds of yogøs: (1) Samatha-yænika and (2) Vipassanæ-yænika. One who primarily develops access-absorption concentration is Samatha-yænika. One who proceeds directly with insight without having previously developed the said concentration is Vipassanæ-yænika.
It must now be considered upon what kind of concentration a Vipassanæ-yænika relies. That he relies upon momentary concentration is quite obvious. That is why the Papañca-sþdanø Sub-Commentary states that “Vipassanæ contemplation is not possible without momentary concentration”. (2) In this connection, the most well-known testimony is the passage cited below from the Paramatthamañjusæ, Mahæ ¿økæ, Nidænædikathæva¼¼anæ.
Attainment of Lokuttaræ Dhamma (namely, Magga-phala-Nibbæna) is never possible to a Samatha-yænika without access-absorption concentration, to a Vipassanæ-yænika without momentary concentration, and to both without contemplation of the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta, the triple gateway to liberation. (II).
This passage states most explicitly that no realisation of Magga-phala-Nibbæna is possible to a Vipassanæ-yænika without momentary concentration, and that a Vipassanæ-yænika develops insight by means of momentary concentration.
The Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw, relying on the authority of the A³guttara Text, Ceylon commentaries and Sub-Commentaries as well as on that of Dhammapæla of south India, writes: “One who begins with access concentration absorption concentration is Samatha-yænika, and one who proceeds with insight without these two concentrations is Vipassanæ-yænika. Of these two kinds, Vipassanæ-yænika has momentary concentration and attains thereby purification of mind.” He is fully aware that in the Visuddhimagga the term “Purification of Mind” applies only to concentration and absorption concentration.
However, without countering this definition, he expresses the view that momentary concentration is able to suppress the Hindrances, and cites the authority of the Visuddhimagga to show that momentary concentration is spoken of by the name of ‘Access’ in the Chapter dealing with Purification of Mind. He also cites the authority of the Commentary to the Satipa¥¥hæna Sutta to explain this. That a Vipassanæ-yænika is able to attain purification of mind is dealt with in The Progress of Insight in a brief manner, together with the practical experiences of the yogøs.
The Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw, on the strength not only of Ceylon Commentaries, etc. but also of the practical experiences of the yogøs, has, with the best of intentions, written the above-mentioned treatise on Buddhist meditation. It is a matter for deep regret that the Ven. Kheminda Thera, apparently without delving seriously into the Pæ¹i Texts, Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries, runs away with his pen to express what he inclines to say by dubbing the Suddha-Vipassanæ-yænika method as the new Myanmar method of meditation. Unhappily this accusation against the author falls not on him but on the Buddha, the Ven. Ænandæ, Yuganaddha Sutta, A¼guttara Nikæya), the Commentators and the Sub-Commentators of Ceylon, as also on Dhammapæla of South India. Why? Because in the Satipa¥¥hæna Sutta the Buddha assures that one can attain arahatship by contemplation of any subject described in twenty-one sections.
The exercises on Postures and Clear Comprehension of Kæyænupassanæ, Feeling, Mind and five kinds of Dhammænupassanæ do not lead to Access Concentration and Absorption Concentration of the forty subjects of meditation mentioned in the Visuddhimagga. But, nevertheless, that purification of mind can be attained by the exercises on these nine subjects of meditation has been definitely stated in the Pæ¹i Texts, Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries, which also explain Vipassanæ-yænikai vis-a-vis Samatha-yænika. It may be repeated that the Commentary to the Visuddhimagga, categorically states that realisation of Magga-phala-Nibbæna is not possible to a Vipassanæ-yænika without momentary concentration. (II).
The Ven. Kheminda Thera asserts that one cannot attain to the consummate state if he is bereft of jhæna. In this connection, he should refer again to the eighth sutta, Mudutara Vagga, Indariya Saµyutta, Mahævagga Saµyutta. In that sutta, the Buddha says that one who has the Lokuttaræ faculties (12) attains arahatship, one who has less attains to the state of Anægæmi, one, at the minimum strength, attains to Sotæpattimagga. The Buddha does not say that only those who attain Lokiya-jhæna can attain Samædhindriya, and that only the jhæna—attainers can attain to the plane of the noble ones (Ariyabhþmi). Obviously, this sutta which the Ven. Kheminda Thera cites does not support his argument.
In that sutta, the Buddha says that one in whom the five Lokuttaræ faculties are absent are still Puthujjanæs (commoners). That is to say Lokiya-jhæna-attainers like Ælæra and Udaka, Jhæna-abiññæ-attainers like Devadatta and Sunakkhatta are still Puthujjanas because Lakuttara faculties are absent in them. This sutta does not exclude Suddha-Vipassanæ-yænika. A suddha-Vipassanæ-yænika is certainly capable of attaining right up to arahantship like Cakkhupæla Thera.
That is why it is stated thus in the Visuddhimagga as well as in the A¥¥hasælini:
“According to governance by insight, the path arisen in a bare-insight (dry-insight) worker, and the path arisen in one who has not made jhæna the basis for insight, and the path made to arise by comprehending unrelated formations after using the first jhæna as the basis for insight are the paths of the first jhæna only”. (Visuddhimagga, Bhikkhu Ñæ¼amoli’s translation, chapter xxi, page 779) (13)
“The Path arisen in one of dry insight by the fixing as insight, and the Path arisen without making a base of the jhæna of one who has acquired the attainment, and the Path produced by making a base of the First jhæna and contemplating particular conditioned things (i.e. other than the basic jhæna) are of the First jhæna”. (A¥¥hasælinø, the Expositor II, Maung Tin’s translation, page 307) (14)
These extracts are cited to prove that the path arisen in a bare-insight worker is definitely the path of First jhæna. He had no Lokiya-jhæna when he was practising Vipassanæ but he comes to possess Lokuttaræ-jhæna at the attainment of the Path. It is hardly necessary to point out that he attains Samædhindriya, one of the five Lokuttaræ faculties. That Sukkha-vipassaka means Suddha-Vipassanæ-yænika, who has no jhæna, is explained in the paramatthamañjþsæ. (15)
In connection with contemplations on Postures, clear Comprehension and Elements, the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw says that the concentration of one who devotes himself to these exercises will be definitely only momentary concentration. The Ven. Kheminda Thera says that the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw does not cite any authority.
The Visuddhimagga states: “As he makes of fort in this way it is not long before concentration arises in him which is reinforced by understanding that illuminates the classification of the elements, and which is only access and does not reach absorption because it has stated with individual essences as its object.” (Bhikkhu Ñæ¼amoli’s translation, page 385, para 42) (16)
A question arises whether access concentration arisen in one who contemplates the four elements is real access concentration. Paramatthamañjþsæ, Commentary to the Visuddhimagga, states: “Access concentration should be understood as an applied term. Because the concentration that develops at the access jhæna absorption is access concentration, and here jhæna is absent. However, being similar in characteristic to access concentration, it is called by that term”. (17)
(Please note similar characteristic means that it can suppress the Hindrances.)
This passage clearly supports the view that the so-called access concentration in the case of contemplation which cannot leads to absorption concentration is not real but only applied.
The Ven. Kheminda Thera’s assertion that momentary concentration emerges after jhæna-attainment is definitely to disparage the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw’s statement in The Progress of Insight that Sudda-vipassanæ-yænika can attain momentary concentration without previous access-absorption concentration. But the Ven. Kheminda Thera fails to shake the position of the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw, which is supported by the Pæ¹i Texts, Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries, wherein it is clearly stated that a Samathayænika attains access-absorption and a Vipassanæ-yænika attains only momentary concentration.
The Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw cites a passage from the Paramatthamañjþsæ, Commentary to the Visuddhimagga, a passage in explanation of the chapter relating to Respiration Mindfullness. (See page 4 (English) and 41 (Pæ¹i). the Progress to Insight). The Ven. Kheminda Thera should note that in this passage importance is given not to jhæna but to momentary concentration as if in absorption.
In the light of these considerations, based on the most authoritative books as well as on the practical experiences of a large number of yogøs, the charge that purification of mind is not possible by means of momentary concentration falls to the ground.
That the Ven. Kheminda Thera is inspired by prejudice is further shown by his reference to the sermon of U Sujæta, the Myanmar pupil and accredited representative in Ceylon recently of the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw. He criticised U Sujæta on the basis of an incomplete press report. Leave alone a senior Kamma¥¥hænæcariya like U Sujæta of the famous Thathana Yeiktha, the meditation centre of the Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw, in Yangon, a sæma¼era of even an average lay yogø knows that the seven purifications must be dealt with in due order.
The Pæ¹i Texts, Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries have explained both Samatha-yænika and Vipassanæ-yænika. Both methods are certainly not new. They have been handed down from generations to generations ever since the time of the Buddha. The Ven. Mahæsø Sayædaw writes The Progress of Insight, a treatise on Vipassanæ method, based on his personal experiences as well as on those of a large number of yogøs, the attainments which are quite in accord with the most authoritative texts, commentaries and sub-commentaries. This method is not a new invention by him. Of course. Vipassanæ is contemplation on Five Aggregates. His pupils are taught to be mindful, if possible, of every occurence at the six sense-doors. At the beginning, however, they are instructed to concentrate on the four elements, particularly the rising and falling movements of the abdomen, which are the movements of Væyo-dhætu. Væyo-dhætu being part of the five khandhæs, the method he employs is certainly not new. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that some of his pupils attain jhæna.
In conclusion, a fervent wish may be expressed that the Ven. Kheminda Thera and persons of his ilk do not rest content with the mere knowledge of the Samatha-yænika method but instead practise it diligently until they attain jhæna together with abhiññæ, as well as ariyabhþmi. May their efforts be crowned with complete success.
(11) VismC. (I,15) Samatha-yænikassa hi upacær-appanæppebhedaµ samædhim, itarassa kha¼ika-samædhim, ubhaye-saµ pi vimokkha-mukha-ttayaµ vinæ na kadæci pi lokuttarædhigamo sambhavati. (Nidænædi-kathæ-va¼-¼anæ).
(12) SC. (III, 268). Imasmim sutte lokuttaræn’eva indriyæni kathitæni. (Mudutaravagga, a¥¥hama-sutta-va¼¼anæ.)
(13) Vism (ii, 305) Vipassanæ-niyamena hi sukkha-vipassakassa uppannamaggo pi, samæpatti-læbhino jhænaµ pædakaµ akatvæ uppannamaggo pi, pa¥hamajjhænaµ pædakaµ katvæ paki¼¼aka-sa³khære sammasitvæ uppædita-maggo pi pa¥hamajjhænikæ’va honti.
(14) DhC (272) same as above, except pathamajjhæniko’va hoti.
(15) VismC (II,474). Ajhænalæbhø Suddhavipassanæyæniko’va sukkha vipassko.
(16) Vism (I, 347). Tass’evaµ yæyamamænassa nacireneva dhætu-ppabhed-ævabhæsanapaññæ-pariggahito sabhæ vadhammaramma¼attæ appanaµ appatto upacæra-matto samædhi uppajjati.
(17) VismC (I,436) Upacærasamædhø’ti caru¹høvasena veditabbam. Appanaµ hi upecca cærj samædhi upacærasamædhi, appanæ c’ettha n’atthi, tædisassa pana samædhissa samænalakkha¼atæya evaµ vuttaµ.
(Note: volumes and pages refer to the 6th Samgæyanæ Edition).
Reply to Rejoinder 1-1.
BY KHEMINDA THERA
( Ceylon )
Referring to my article on the above subject appearing in the July issue of World Buddhism of last year, the Venerable Agga Mahæ Pa¼ðita Ñænuttara Sayædaw asks, in his ‘Rejoinder I’ appearing in the issue of November last, whether I “was inspired by prejudice”, and goes on to say: “If so (it) is certainly detrimental not only to himself but to all those who, in the Buddha Sæsanæ, are making efforts, in right earnest, to abandon the four wrong courses of life (agati), and get rid of all defilements.”
I can assure him that I was certainly inspired, not by prejudice as he fears, but by the instruction of the Buddha given in the Mahæpadesa Sutta of the A³guttara Nikæya and included in the Mahæparinibbæna Sutta. And, to facilitate reference, I quote the relevant passages: “Here, monks, a monk may say thus: ‘Face to face with the Blessed One, friend, have I heard, face to face with him have I received this. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the message of the Teacher’.
“Monks, the speech of that monk should neither be welcomed nor reviled. Non-welcoming, non-reviling, every word and syllable should be studied, placed before the sutta and compared with the Vinaya. When placed beside the Sutta and compared with the Vinaya, should they not fit in with the Sutta, nor accord with the Vinaya, you should come to the conclusion: ‘Truly this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that monk’. Thus, monks, you should reject it. If they fit in with the Sutta and accord with the Vinaya, then you should come to the conclusion: ‘Truly this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been rightly grasped by that monk’. Monks, understand this as the First Great Appeal to Authority.”
“Again, monks, a monk may say: ‘In such and such a residence lives a community of monks, with an elder, a leader. Face to face with that community of monks have I heard, face of face with it have I received it. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the message of the Teacher’. Monks, the speech of that monk should neither be welcomed nor reviled ... Monks, understand this as the Second Great to Authority.
“Again, monks, a monk may say: ‘In such and such residence live many elder monks, of great knowledge, who have mastered the tradition (ægama), Dhamma-bearers, Vinaya–bearers, tabulated summary–bearers. Face to face with these elders have I heard, face to face with them have I received it. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the message of the Teacher’. Monks, the speech of that monk should neither be welcomed nor reviled ... Monks, understand this as the Third Great Appeal to Authority.”
“ Again, monks, a monk may say: ‘In such and such a residence lives a monk, an elder, of great knowledge, who has mastered the tradition, a Dhamma–bearer, a Vinaya–bearer, a tabulated summary-bearer. Face to face with this elder have I heard, face to face with him have I received it. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the message of the Teacher’. Monks, the speech of that monk should neither be welcomed nor reviled. Non-welcoming, non-reviling, every word and syllable should be well studied, placed beside the sutta and compared with the Vinaya. When placed beside the Sutta and compared with the Vinaya, should they not fit in with the Sutta, nor accord with the Vinaya, you should come to the conclusion: ‘Truly this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that elder’. Thus, monks, you should reject it. If they fit in with the Sutta and accord with the Vinaya, then you should come to the conclusion: ‘Truly this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been rightly grasped by that elder’. Monks, understand this as the Fourth Great Appeal to Authority.” (1)
Since the supreme authority in respect of the Dhamma is vested in the suttas by the Blessed One himself, before deciding on any system of contemplation, whether ancient or modern, which claims to lead the practiser to the destruction of ill (dukkha). let us pause a while to consider what the suttas teach on the subject. It is with the aim of aiding the reader to come to a conclusion in conformity with the Buddha’s instructions that the appropriate sutta passages together with their commentaries are given below.
1. (a) The Venerable Ænandæ Thera, answering the wanderer Uttiya’s question “Will the whole world, or a half of it, or a third of it realise nibbæna?” says that just as the wise sentinel is not concerned with the question of how many enter the city, but knows that any one entering it does so through its single entrance, so the Tathægata is concerned only with how nibbæna is realised, and not with the question of how many realise it. And the Venerable Ænandæ Thera proceeds; “Whosoever have gone out, are going out, or will go out from this world (to Nibbæna), all of them have done so, (are doing so, or will do so) by giving up the five hindrances (pañca nøvarane pahæya), those impurities of the heart that weaken wisdom (cetaso upakkilese paññæya dubbalikara¼e), having their thoughts well established in the four foundations of mindfullness (catþsusatipa¥¥hænesu supatitthacitta) and having developed in their real essence the seven factors of wisdom”. (2)
( Emphasising, as it were, this statement of the Venerable Ænandæ Thera, the Venerable Særiputta Thera tells the Buddha through the knowledge that is in conformity with the Dhamma, that “all the Supremely Enlightened Ones of the past, future, and present, all of them realise supreme enlightenment by getting rid of the five hindrances, those impurities of the heart that weaken wisdom, having their thoughts well established in the four foundations of mindfullness, and having developed in their real essence the seven factors of wisdom”. (3) And he repeats this statement on two other occasions, namely, in the Satipa¥¥hæna Saµyutta and in the Mahæparinibbæna Sutta. (4)
On the first two occasions the Buddha, discerning the importance of these words of the Dhammasenæpati, commended and exhorted him saying: “Excellent, Særiputta, excellent! Declare this teaching constantly to monks and nuns, and men and women lay disciples, so that should there be among them any foolish people who have doubt and perplexity regarding my method of teaching, having heard this exposition, they might give up their doubts and perplexities.” (5) And the respective commentaries explain: (1) “Defilements of the mind=the five hindrances defile, make impure, vex, and plague the mind. Therefore they are called defilements of the mind. Weakening of wisdom=the hindrances that arise do not allow the unarisen wisdom to arise. Therefore they are called weakeners of wisdom.” (6) “Defilement of the mind=the five hindrances (obstructed) mind defiles, renders impure, vexes, and plagues. Therefore they are called defilements of the mind. Weakening of wisdom=the hindrances that arise do not allow the unarisen wisdom to arise, and do not allow the increase of the arisen wisdom. Therefore they are called weakeners of wisdom.” (7) These two commentaries detail to a certain extent the nature of the harm the presence of the five hindrances entail.
A fuller statement is made in the commentary to the Cþ¹ahatthipadopama Sutta which says: “Weakening of wisdom=these five hindrances that arise do not allow the arising of mundane and supramundane wisdom; they cut up and destroy the arisen eight attainments of the five kinds of supernormal knowledge. Therefore they are called weakeners of wisdom.” (8) And the second of these commentaries, moved by the spirit of the declarations of the Venerable Særiputta Thera and the Blessed One’s approvel of them, further elucidates: “You should constantly declare=you should say again and again. Saying: ‘It was said by me in the morning’, do not refrain from saying it at noon and so on. Saying: ‘It was said by me today.’ do not refrain from saying it the following day and so on, is the meaning.” (9)
It will be noted that there is no exception to this requirement; even the Sammæsambodhisattas comply with it by abandoning the five hindrances before developing the four foundations of mindfullness and the seven factors of enlightenment. This is because the five hindrances, as we have just seen, defile, vex, and plague the mind; they prevent the arising of mundane and supramundane wisdom; and they cut up and destroy everything of worth to the yogø striving for the highest. Therefore, unless they are checked, at least temporarily, no insight can be developed.
2. And the abandonment of the hindrances occurs in the first jhæna according to the sutta thus: “The first jhæna, friend, is the abandonment of five factors and the possession of five factors. Here, friend, in the monk who has attained the first jhæna sense desire is abandoned, ill-will is abandoned, rigidity and torpor are abandoned, agitation and anxiety are abandoned. And there are present applied thought, sustained thought, joy, happiness, and unification of mind.” (10)
3. The Bodhisatta initiated contemplation in the Dhamma under the Bodhi tree in just this way. After six years of the most austere forms of ascetic practice he was no nearer the goal than when he began. At this point, remembering his childhood experience of attaining the first jhæna under the purple berry tree while his royal father was engaged in the ploughing festival, he asked himself. “Could this be the way to enlightenment?” And he came to the conclusion, “This, indeed, is the way to enlightenment”. Thereafter he sat under the Bodhi tree and attained the first jhæna; and in due course attained the second, the third, and the fourth jhæna. And in the first watch of the night he attained to the knowledge of remembering his past lives, in the middle watch to the knowledge of the passing away and the arising of beings, and in the last watch to the knowledge of the destructions of the cankers. (11)
1. A.II, 168-70, D.II, 124-26; Bhægavæ etadavoca; ‘Idha bhikkhave Bhikkhu evaµ vadevya. “Sammukha me taµ ævuso Bhægavato sutum sammukha patiggahitaµ, ayaµ Dhammo ayaµ Vinaya idaµ Satthu sæsanan” ti, tassa bhikkave bhikkhuno bhasitaµ n’ eva abhinanditabhaµ na patikkositabbam. Anabhnanditvæ appatikkositvæ tæni padavyanjanani sædhukaµ uggahetva Sutte otaretabbæni Vinaye sandassetabbæni. Tæni ce Sutte otariyamanani Vinaye Sandassiyamanani na c’ eva Sutte ataranti na Vinaye sandissanti, nitthaµ ettha gantabbam: “Addha idaµ na c’eva tassa Bhægavato vacanam, imassa ca bhikkhuno dugganhitaµ” ti iti h’ etaµ bhikkhave chaddeye yathæ. Tani ce sutte otariyammanani Vinay-sandassiyamanani sutte c’eva otaranti Vinaye ca sandisssanti, nitthaµ ettha gantabbam: “Addha idaµ tassa Bhægavato vacanaµ imassa ca bhikkhuno suggahitan” ti. Ibaµ bhikkhave pathamaµ mahæpadesaµ dhareyyætha.
‘Idha pana bhikkhave bhikkhu evaµ vadeyya: “Amukasmim næma avase samgho viharati satthero sapamakkho, Tassa me samghassa sammukkhu sutaµ sammukha pa¥iggahi taµ, ayaµ Dhammo ayaµ Vinayo idaµ Sutthu sæsanan” ti’ tassa bhikkhave bhikkhuno bhasitaµ n’eva abhinanditabbaµ na patikkositabbaµ ... Idaµ bhikkhave dutiyaµ mahæpadesaµ dhareyyætha.
“Idha pana bhikkhave bhikkhu evaµ vadeyya:, Amukasmin næma avase sambahula there bhikkhu viharanti bahussuta agatagama dhammadhara vinayadhara mætikadhara. Tesaµ me therænum sammukha sutaµ summukha pa¥iggahitaµ, ayaµ Dhammo ayaµ Vinaya ayaµ Satthu sæsa-nam” ti ... Idaµ bhikkhave tatiyaµ mahæpadesaµ dhareyyætha.
‘Idha pana bhikkhave bhikkhu evaµ vadeyya: “Amukasmim næma avaeteko thero bhikkhu viharati bahussuto agatagamo dhamma-dharo vinayadharo mætika-dharo ... Idaµ bhikkhave catutthaµ mahæpadesaµ dhareyyætha. Ime kho bhikkhave cattæro mahæ-padese dhæreyyæthæti.”
2. A.V. 194—95: Yaµ pan’ etaµ bhavaµ Gotamo abhinnaya sævakænaµ dhammaµ desesi sattænaµ visuddhiyæ sokaparidevanaµ sæmatikkamæya dukkhadomanassænaµ atthangamæya ñæyassa adhigamæya nibbænassa sacchikiriyæya, sabbo ca tena loko niyyissati upaddho væ tibhago væ ti? Evaµ vutte Bhægavæ tunhi ahosi ... Atha kho æyasamæ Ænando Uttiyaµ paribbæjakaµ etadavoca: ‘Tena h’ævuso Uttiya upama³ te karissæmi ... Tatr’ assa doværiko pa¼ðito vyatto medhævi annatanaµ nivareta natanaµ paveseta so tassa nagarassa samanta anupariyæyapathaµ anukkamamano na passeyya pakarasandhim væ pakaravivaraµ væ antamaso bilaranissakkanamattaµ pi, no ca khavassa evaµ nanaµ hoti’ etthaka pana imaµ nagaraµ pavisanti væ nkkhamanti væ’ti. Atha khvassa evaµ ettha hoti’ye kho keci olarika pana imaµ nagarem pavisanti væ nikkhamanti væ, sabbe te imink dværena pavisanti væ nikkhamanti væ ‘ti, Evaµ eva kho ævuso Uttiya na Tathægatassa evaµ ussukka-taµ hoti’ sabbo co tena loko niyyissati upaddho væ tibhago va’ti. Atho kha evaµ ettha Tathægatassa hoti. ‘Ye kho kesi lokamha niyyimsu væ niyyanti væ niyyissanti væ, sabbe te pañca nøvarane pahæya cetaso upakkilese paññæya dubbalikarane catþsu satipa¥¥hænesu supatittthitacitta satta bojjha³ge yathæbhþtaµ bhævetvæ evaµ ete lokamba niyyimsu væ niyydanti væ niyyissanti væ’ ti.
3. D.III, 101.
4. S.V.160—61; D.II, 83.
5. D.III, 116; S.V 161; Sædhu, sædhu Særiputta tasmæ ti ha evaµ Særiputta imaµ dhammapariyæyaµ abhikkhunaµ bhoseyyæsi bhikkhunaµ bhikkhunønaµ upasakænaµ upasikanaµ yesaµ pi hi Særiputta moghapurisænaµ bhavissati Tathægate ka³khæ væ vimati væ tesaµ pi maµ dhammapariyæyaµ sutvæ ya tesaµ Tathægate Ka³khæ væ vimati væ sæ pahiyissatø ti.
6. Spk. III, 211: Cetaso upakkilese ti pañca nivarana cittaµ upakkilissanti, kilitthaµ karonti, upatopenti, vihethenti. Tasmæ cetaso upakkilesæ ti vuccanti. Paññæya dubbalikarane ti. nivarana uppajjamæna anupannæya paññæya anupannæya paññæya uppajjitum na denti, tasmæ paññæya dubbali-karanæ ti vuccanti.
7. Sv. III, 880—81: Cetaso upakkilese ti pañca-nivarana-citaµ upakkilesan ti kilitthaµ karonti upatapenti. vihethenti Tasmæ cetaso upakkilesæ ti vuccanti. Paññæya dubbali-karane ti nivarana uppa-jjamæna anuppannæya paññæya upajjitum na denti, uppanæya paññæya vaddhtum na denti, tasmæ paññæya dubbalikaranæ ti vuccanti.
8. PS.II, 217: Paññæya dubbalikarane ti ime pañca nivarana uppajjamæna anuppannæya lokiya-lukuttaroya paññæya uppajjitum na dentiuppannæ pi attha samopattiyo, pañca væ abhlññæ ucchinditvob patenti; tasmæ paññæya dubbalikaranæ ti vuccanti.
9. Spk, III, 212: Abhikkhunaµ bhæseyyæsi ti, punappunaµ bhæseyyæsi. ‘Pubbanhe me kathitan’ ti ma majjhantikadisu na kathayitha, ‘Ajja væ me katnita³’ ti ma aparajju-divasadisu na kathyitthæ ti attho.
10. M.I.294—95: Pathamaµ kho avuos jhænaµ pa³cangavippahønaµ pañca¼gasamannæ-gataµ: Idh’ ævuso pa¥hamaµ jhænaµ samapannassa bhikkhuno kæmacchando pahino hoti, byæpado pahino hoti, thinamiddhaµ pahønaµ hoti’ vicikicchø pahønæ hoti, vitakko ca vattati vacaro ca pøti ca sukhan ca cittekaggatæ ca.
11. M.I. 246—49: na kho panahaµ imæya katukæya dukkarakarikæya adhigacchæmi uttarim manussodiamma alamariyanandassanavisesaµ siyæ nu kho añño maggo bodhayati, Taasa mayhaµ Aggivessana etad ahosi: Abhijænæhami kho panæhaµ pitu Sakkassa kammante sitaya jambucchayaya nisinno vivicc eva kamehi ... pathamaµ jhønaµ upasaµpajja viharita, siyæ nu kho eso maggo bodhayati. Tassa mayhaµ Aggivessana satanusari vinnanaµ ahosi: eso væ maggo bodhayati ... So kho ahaµ Aggivessana olarikaµ æharaµ ahærevta balaµ gahetvæ vivi’ eva kamehi ... pa¥hanaµ jhænaµ upasaµpaj