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Realities and Concepts

Part III

         Lobha-mula-citta (consciousness with attachment) without wrong view,27 ditthivippayutta, which arises in our daily life, is not only attached to visible object, sound , odour, flavour, tangible object and concepts, it is also attached to miccha samadhi, wrong concentration. Someone may, for example, apply himself to yoga exercises such as concentration on breath in order to improve his bodily health. Then there is a kind of samadhi.

         When the citta is not kusala at such moments there is lobha-mula-citta with miccha-samadhi, wrong concentration. There may only be attachment to samadhi with the aim of improving one's bodily health. Someone may not necessarily have the wrong view that he should apply himself first to samadhi in order that he afterwards can consider nama and rupa and have right understanding of them more quickly, and that this is the way to realize the noble Truths. If he has such wrong understanding he does not know the characteristic of right mindfulness, samma-sati, he does not know that sati is not self, anatta. It is not true that when someone applies himself first to miccha-samadhi it will help panna to know the characteristics of nama and rupa. In order that sati is samma-sati, a factor of the Eightfold Path,28 it must accompany samma-ditthi, right understanding, which understands the characteristics of the realities that are appearing. These are the objects sati should consider in the right way, it should be mindful of them so that right understanding can become more and more refined. Right understanding of nama and rupa is accumulated as sankharakkhandha29 and thus conditions are being developed for the arising of direct awareness of the realities which are appearing. When there is seeing one should know when the object is a pannatti, a concept, and when a paramattha dhamma. It is the same in the case of hearing, smelling, tasting, the experience of tangible object and the experience of an object through the mind-door.

         27 Lobha-mula-cittas can be accompanied by wrong view or they can be without wrong view. When they are accompanied by wrong view there is clinging to a distorted view of reality.

         28The sobhana cetasikas, beautiful cetasikas, which are the factors of the eightfold path are: right understanding, right thinking, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The development of the eightfold path is actually the development of right understanding of nama and rupa which appear at the present moment.

         29This is the khandha or aggregate which includes all cetasikas except vedana, feeling, and sanna, remembrance or perception. Panna and all sobhana cetasikas are included in sankharakkhanda and they are together the accumulated condition for the growth of panna, eventually leading to enlightenment.

        When we watch television, a football game or tennis match, when we read a newspaper or look at pictures, we should know when the object is a concept and when a paramattha dhamma. If we do not know this we may mistakenly think that only the story in television is a concept. In reality however, there are concepts when we watch television and also when we do not watch television. Even the names of all of us here are nama-pannattis, they are words of conventional language which refer to citta, cetasika and rupa which arise together and thus we know that there is this or that person. Miccha-samadhi (wrong concentration) can be the object of lobha-mula-citta without wrong view or with wrong view. In the latter case one believes that this kind of samadhi is the way to realize the noble Truths. There is miccha-samadhi all over the world. While people apply themselves to concentration with citta which is not kusala citta (wholesome consciousness) accompanied by panna , there is miccha-samadhi. When they believe that this is a faster way to achieve mindfulness of the characteristics of nama and rupa there is wrong understanding. Samma-sati of the eightfold Path can be mindful in the right way of the realities which are appearing if first the difference between the characteristics of nama and rupa is understood. Miccha-samadhi cannot condition right mindfulness.

        Question: It is said that samadhi (concentration) is the proximate cause for vipassana.

         S.: What kind of samadhi is meant?

        Q: It must be samma-samadhi (right concentration) which is the proximate cause.

         S.: It must be samma-samadhi which arises together with samma-sati, samma-ditthi (right understanding), samma-sankappa (right thinking) and samma-vayama (right effort).

         Concepts are the object of citta in daily life, at the moments that it does not have paramattha dhammas as object. We should find out ourselves how often we have concepts as object. There is seeing and then we think of a story about what appears through the eyes. There is hearing and then we think about what appears through the ears. It is the same with regard to the other sense-doors. The cittas (moments of consciousness) that arise in a mind-door process experience visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object, and they think in many different ways about all these objects. Can there be other kinds of objects in our daily life? There can be either paramattha dhammas or concepts as objects in this life, in previous lives, or in future lives, in whatever plane or world one is living. There cannot be other kinds of objects. There are only six classes of objects (the objects which are experienced through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) and in these classes paramattha dhammas as well as concepts are included.

         We may wonder whether the Buddha experienced objects which were concepts. Let us first speak about the daily life of ordinary people. When the cittas of an eye-door process have fallen away and there have been bhavanga-cittas in between, there is one series of mind-door process cittas which have as object the same paramattha dhamma as the eye-door process cittas which have just fallen away. After there have been again bhavanga-cittas in between there can be mind-door process cittas which think of the shape and form of what appeared. What appears through the eyes is a kind of rupa, visible object, and this arises together with the four Great Elements of earth, water, fire and wind.30 We could not separate colour from these four Great Elements. Wherever there are these four Great Elements there also have to be together with them in one group of rupas, the rupas which are colour, odour, flavour and nutritive essence. These eight rupas cannot be separated from each other.31 Thus, since we cannot take colour away from the four Great Elements, there can, after we have seen colour through the eyesense, be a concept on account of colour. We can have a concept of a whole, we can know that there is this or that thing, this or that person. Seeing conditions thinking of concepts. If there were no colour impinging on the eyesense and no seeing, could we notice people, beings and different things?

        30 The four great elements of earth, water, fire and wind are conventional terms which refer to characteristics of rupa such as solidity, cohesion, temperature, and motion or pressure.

        31Rupas do not arise singly , they arise in groups consisting of at least eight rupas.

        The Buddha certainly had concepts as objects. When we listen to the Dhamma we should also consider which cause leads to which effect. There are paramattha dhammas as well as concepts which can be the object of citta. At the moment a paramattha dhamma is not the object, a concept must be the object. This has been repeated time and again so that there are conditions for sati to be aware of the characteristics of realities which appear. Thus it can be understood correctly that what appears through the eyes are only different colours. Since colour arises together with the four Great Elements and cannot be separated from them, different concepts are conceived on account of the colour which was seen. If satipatthana arises it can distinguish visible object, it can consider it and be aware of it, so that it can be correctly known that what appears are just different colours. Colour can be realized as only a kind of reality appearing through the eyes. It can be correctly under-stood that when one knows what different things are there are mind-door process cittas which know concepts.

         When we have studied the Dhamma and considered it, we shall see that the cittas of all beings which arise in daily life have sometimes a paramattha dhamma and sometimes a concept as object. There are not only cittas of the eye-door process which have colour as object. When the cittas of the eye-door process have fallen away and there have been bhavanga-cittas in between, mind-door process cittas arise experiencing the colour which was just before experienced by the eye-door process cittas. When that series of mind-door process cittas has fallen away and there have been bhavanga-cittas in between, there can be another series of mind-door process cittas which have a concept as object. If we did not know concepts how could we lead our daily life? If one wouldn't know what the different things are, such as a table, a chair, food, a bowl, a plate or a spoon, one could not lead one's daily life. Also animals must have concepts as objects, otherwise they could not stay alive. They must know what is food and what is not food.

        Is there a difference in the ways different people experience concepts, namely in the ways the Buddha, the arahat, the anagami, the sakadagami, the sotapanna32 and the ordinary person experience them? There is a difference between ariyas and non-ariyas as to the way they experience concepts. Ordinary people who do not know anything about paramattha dhammas take concepts for things which are real. The ariyas who have realized the Noble Truths know that all dhammas are anatta. The realities which arise and appear through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, bodysense, and mind-door are impermanent, whereas concepts are not realities with the characteristics of impermanence and anatta. Concepts are not realities but they are the means to make things known. Concepts are the object of citta and cetasika when we know the meaning of the things which appear, when we know what different things are. We should carefully consider phenomena and the conditions for their appearing, we should consider which cause leads to which effect. If there were no citta and cetasika could there be concepts? That would impossible. If there would only be rupas but no namas, no citta and cetasika, there could not be concepts. Rupa is the reality which does not know an object whereas citta and cetasika are the realities which know an object. Therefore, if citta and cetasika would not arise concepts could not be known. ariyas as well as non-ariyas have concepts as object, but there is a difference. Non-ariyas take concepts for realities whereas ariyas know when citta has a paramattha dhamma as object and when it has a concept as object.

        32 The arahat is fully enlightened, he has extinguished all defilements. The sotapanna (first stage of realisation) has uprooted wrong view but still has other defilements. The sakadagami and anagami are at the second and third stage of realisation, respectively . All four are called ariyas, noble.

         When citta has a concept as object is there wrong view, miccha-ditthi? It depends on the kind of citta which has a concept as object. All ariyas have concepts as object but they do not have wrong view, they have completely eradicated the cetasika which is wrong view, miccha-ditthi. If we do not carefully consider realities we will not know the difference between lobha-mula-citta with wrong view and lobha-mula-citta without wrong view. Lobha-mula-citta without wrong view is attached to all objects. It is attached to what appears through the eyes and to the concept conceived on account of it. It is attached to sound which appears through the ears, and to a concept on account of the sound. It is the same in the case of the objects appearing through the other doorways. This is our ordinary daily life. Thus, lobha-mula-citta can be attached to all objects without wrong view about them.

        The sotapanna and the sakadagami have lobha-mula-citta (consciousness with attachment) without wrong view, and this citta can be attached to all six classes of objects. The anagami has lobha-mula-citta without wrong view which is attached to the class of objects which is dhammarammana, objects which can only be experienced through the mind-door. He has eradicated attachment to the sense objects which are visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object. The arahat has neither kusala dhammas nor akusala dhammas on account of the six classes of objects. He has completely eradicated all defilements and akusala dhammas. The person who is not arahat may understand the characteristics of the objects as they are, he may know when the object is a paramattha dhamma and when a concept. However, so long as one has not eradicated all defilements there are conditions for their arising. There can be happiness or sadness, like or dislike on account of the objects, be they paramattha dhammas or concepts. To what extent defilements arise for the non-arahat depends on the degree of understanding that has been developed, it depends on whether a person is a non-ariya or an ariya who is a sotapanna, a sakadagami or an anagami.

         We should carefully consider when there is sakkaya-ditthi, personality belief. Although concepts are not realities, paramattha dhammas, we may take them for things that really exist, and then there is wrong view. When someone clings to the concept of self, being, person, or different things and really believes that they exist, there is the wrong view of sakkaya-ditthi (personality belief). So long as sakkaya-ditthi has not been eradicated there are conditions for the arising of many other kinds of wrong view as well. There may be the wrong view that there is no kamma, no result of kamma, there may be the belief in an almighty god, the creator of the world and of all beings and all people. When we do not know the conditions for the arising of all sankhara dhammas, conditioned dhammas, there can be different kinds of wrong view.

        However, not each time when citta has a concept as object there is clinging to wrong view. Can concepts be the object of akusala citta (unwholesome consciousness)? They can, they are in fact usually the object of akusala citta. There can be lobha-mula-citta which is attached to a concept. Or there can be dosa-mula-citta which has aversion towards a concept. When one does not like this or that person does one realize what the object is? At such moments a concept is the object of citta. Thus we see that a concept can be the object of any kind of akusala citta.

         Can a concept be the object of kusala citta (wholesome consciousness)? It can be the object of kusala citta. Concepts belong to our daily life and thus they are the object of all kinds of cittas arising in our daily life. If we want to perform dana (giving) but we didn't know concepts, we wouldn't know what the gift is in conventional sense, thus there could not be kusala citta which performs dana. There could not be abstention (virati) from wrong deeds or speech if one did not know what is there in conventional sense, if one did not know that there is a being or a person.

         When someone develops samatha can concepts be the object of citta? Someone may think that it is difficult to answer this question when he has not studied in detail the way of development of samatha and the subjects of calm. However, it is important to remember that when a dhamma (reality) is not the object of citta a concept must be the object. Thus also in samatha a concept can be the object of citta. All cittas other than the cittas which develop satipatthana and the sense-door process cittas can have concepts as object. Only if we develop satipatthana can we know whether a phenomenon is a paramattha dhamma. When satipatthana does not arise there is at such moments no awareness, no study and investigation of the characteristics of paramattha dhammas. In our daily life the object of citta is sometimes a paramattha dhamma and sometimes a concept. The development of satipatthana is very intricate, because panna must become very refined in order that it can see, as they are, all the realities which appear.

         Question: satipatthana cannot have concepts as object and therefore when we develop satipatthana should we try to stop citta having a concept as object?

         S.: That is not right because then we could not lead our ordinary daily life. We cannot stop citta having concepts as object. However, panna can be developed so that it can be known that when a concept is the object, it is citta, a type of nama, which knows that concept. A concept could not be the object at that moment if there were no citta which knows it. When we develop satipatthana we should not force ourselves not to think of concepts. We should not try not to know what the different things are which we normally see and recognize in daily life. Then we would not be able to know the characteristic of nama dhamma, the reality which knows something. When a concept is the object one should realize that citta and cetasika which are nama dhammas have arisen and that they know at that moment an object which is a concept. satipatthana can study and consider realities and be aware of them. Thus it can be known that when there is thinking it is nama which thinks, an element, a reality which experiences, not a self, a being or person. We should know that all dhammas are non-self, anatta, and that we cannot stop citta thinking of different things. Panna should penetrate the characteristics of the different namas that experience different objects through the six doors. Then doubt about the characteristics of nama dhammas can be eliminated. Nobody can prevent the arising of the phenomena of our daily life. It is because of ignorance that one tries not to think or not to know the concepts of the things that appear. If someone tries to avoid thinking of concepts panna cannot be developed.

         We should consider our way of practice. One may follow a kind of practice which is not the development of panna (wisdom) which studies, notices, and considers the characteristics of the nama dhammas and rupa dhammas. People don't lead their usual daily life while they try to follow a particular practice. Then they develop the wrong Path, miccha-magga, which is: wrong understanding, wrong thinking, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, wrong concentration. That is not the right Path, the development of satipatthana, the development of vipassana. If someone does not know as they are the characteristics of the realities which appear, and if he does not understand which cause leads to which effect, there will be wrong understanding. He will cling to wrong view, he will search for a way of practice which is the wrong Path. There will be ignorance while he sees different colours and perceives different things. We read in the Kindred Sayings (V, Maha-vagga, Book I, XLV, Kindred Sayings on the Way, Ch. I, par.4, the Brahmin):

         Savatthi was the occasion for this discourse… Then the venerable Ananda, robing himself in the forenoon and taking bowl and outer robe, entered Savatthi on his begging round. Now the venerable Ananda saw Janussoni, the brahmin, driving out of Savatthi in his car, drawn by pure white mares. White were the steeds harnessed thereto and white the trappings, white the car. White were the fittings, white the reins, the goad, the canopy, his turban, his clothes and sandals, and by a white fan was he fanned. And when the people saw it they cried out: "Ah! There is the best of cars! There is the best of cars for beauty!"

        Someone may just see white colour and then there can be wrong understanding if he does not know realities, and if he does not know the way to realize the truth of not self. He may look for another way to know the truth. He may have the wrong understanding that the car which has a white colour is the best of cars. We read further on that the venerable Ananda, after going his begging round, came back, ate his meal and visited the Exalted One. He told him that he had seen Janussoni in his white car and that the people had cried out that that was the best of cars. Ananda asked the Buddha whether he could point out the best of cars in this Dhamma and Discipline. The Buddha explained that the defilements can be eradicated through the development of the eightfold Path, not by seeing a white carriage with white trappings. The best of carriages is the ariya eightfold Path. The Dhamma carriage is unsurpassed for its conquest in the fight.33The Buddha then said the following verse:

        Whoso has Confidence (saddha) and Wisdom, these two states,

         Forever yoked together lead him on:

         Conscience (hiri) the pole, and Mind the yoke thereof,

         And heedfulness (sati) his watchful charioteer.

         The car is furnished with Righteousness (sila),

         Rapture its axle, Energy its wheels,

         And Calm, yoke fellow of the balanced mind,

         Desirelessness the drapery thereof,

         Goodwill and Harmlessness his weapons are,

         Together with Detachment of the mind.

         Endurance is his leathern coat of mail:

         And to attain the peace this car rolls on.

         It is built by oneself, and thus it becomes

         The best of cars, unconquerable in battle.

         Seated therein the sages leave the world,

         And verily they win the victory.

        Thus we see that the white carriage and all the white paraphernalia have nothing to do with the ariya wisdom.

        33 In Pali there is a word association of yana, car, and nana, wisdom.

        In the commentary to this sutta (in the Saratthappakasini) it is said that when the brahmin Janussoni would drive around town he had people announce his coming ahead of time. When people had something to do outside town they would not go away, in order to see Janussoni driving out. If people had gone out of town already, they would return in order to see him. They believed it to be an auspicious sign to see the treasures and wealth of someone like Janussoni. When the brahmin Janussoni was going to drive around the whole day the people in town swept the roads from early morning on. They made them smooth with sand and scattered white flowers all over. They were helping each other to put up flags and banners and they caused the whole town to be wafted with the smell of incense. Janussoni rode through the town in a white carriage with white paraphernalia, pulled by four white horses. The wheels and the fittings of the car were made of silver. Janussoni had two cars: a battle car and a car for his paraphernalia. The battle car was quadrilateral and it was not so big, it could take two or three people. The car for his paraphernalia was very big. There was room for eight or ten people who carried the canopy, the fan and palm leaves. These people could stand or comfortably lie down. The horses which pulled the carriage were all white, their ornaments were made of silver. The carriage was called white because its coverings were made of silver and it was decorated with ivory. The coverings of the other carriages were lion skins and tiger skins or yellow cloths. It was different in the case of Janussoni's carriage, this was covered by very precious cloths. The reins and even the bridles were covered with silver. The canopy erected in the middle of the carriage was white. Janussoni's turban was seven inches wide and made of silver. His clothes were white, of the colour of a lump of foam. His clothes and the coverings of his carriage were all of very expensive material. His sandals, unlike the sandals of those who travel or go in the forest, were meant to be worn when going on his carriage, and they were ornamented with silver. His fan was white with a handle of crystal. Janussoni was the only person whose paraphernalia were all white. He used white face powder and white flowers to adorn himself. His jewelry, including the rings on his ten fingers and in his ears, were made of silver. His retinue consisted of ten thousand people and these were dressed in white clothes and adorned with white flowers and white jewelry. Janussoni enjoyed his wealth and dignity from early morning, while he took his breakfast, applied perfumes and dressed himself in white. He went outside his palace and took off on his carriage. The brahmins of his retinue who were dressed in white, adorned with white cosmetics and white flowers, surrounded him while they carried his white canopy. Then coins were scattered about for the children, and the people of the town would gather and cheer, tossing pieces of cloth. Janussoni went around town to display his wealth. Thus he would give people who wanted to have an auspicious sign and blessings for good luck an opportunity to see him. People who were lucky entered the palace and went up to the first floor, opened the windows and looked down to have a good view. When people saw the carriage of Janussoni they exclaimed that this was the best of cars.

         The Buddha said to Ananda that people may give money to small children so that the giver will be praised because of loveliness, beauty, and wealth. However, only by being praised one will not really be lovable and rich. Although the people who saw Janussoni's car praised it as the best of cars, it could not be the best of cars just because people praised it. The Buddha said that in reality that car was a miserable, ugly thing.

         The Buddha said to Ananda that the best of cars is a term that may be applied to the eightfold Path. The eightfold Path is the excellent way because it liberates from all that is wrong. By the noble eightfold Path one can become an ariya, and attain nibbana. The wisdom car, the Dhamma car, is the best vehicle, the best battle car. Nothing can excel this car and by this car the defilements are conquered. Thus we see the difference between the car of Janussoni and the Dhamma car. There can be wrong view and wrong practice just be-cause of seeing something. Some people may believe that white is an auspicious colour which conditions them to become pure, and without defilements. However, the Buddha said that in reality that car was a miserable, ugly thing because it caused people to have wrong view. They thought that it was the best of cars. The understanding of things as they are has nothing to do with the colour of someone's clothes or ornaments. When satipatthana arises and is aware of the characteristics of the realities which appear it can be said that there is the vehicle of panna which leads to the eradication of defilements.


        Sense-door process and mind-door process of cittas:

        When a sense object, which is rupa, impinges on one of the sensedoors, it is experienced by several cittas arising in a sense-door process. Counting from the "past bhavanga", there are seventeen moments of citta if the sense-door process of cittas runs its full course. Rupa lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta, and thus it falls away when that process is over. The seventeen moments of citta are as follows:

         1. atita-bhavanga (past bhavanga).

         2. bhavanga calana (vibrating bhavanga).

         3. bhavangupaccheda (arrest bhavanga), the last bhavanga arising before the object is experienced through the sense-door.

         4. five-sense-door-adverting-consciousness (pancadvaravajjana-citta), which is a kiriyacitta.

         5. sense-cognition (dvi-pancavinnana, seeing-consciousness, etc.), which is vipakacitta.

         6. receiving-consciousness (sampaticchana-citta), which is vipakacitta.

         7. investigating-consciousness (santirana-citta) which is vipakacitta.

         8. determining-consciousness (votthapana-citta) which is kiriyacitta.

         9-15. seven javana-cittas ("impulsion", kusala citta or akusala citta in the case of non-arahats).

         16. registering-consciousness (tadarammana-citta) which may or may not arise, and which is vipaka citta.

         17. registering-consciousness. After a sense object has been experienced through a sense-door it is experienced through the mind-door, and then that object has just fallen away. Before the mind-door process begins there are bhavanga-cittas and the last two of these are specifically designated by a name. There are the following cittas:

        bhavanga calana (vibrating bhavanga)

        bhavangupaccheda (which is, in this case, the mind-door through which the cittas of the mind-door process will experience the object)

        mind-door-adverting-consciousness (mano-dvaravajjana-citta) which is kiriyacitta

        Seven javana-cittas

        Two tadarammana-cittas (which may or may not arise).

        After the mind-door process has been completed there are bhavanga-cittas again.

Sujin Boriharnwanaket speaking to venerable Bhikkhus


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