This analysis of
the Path is intended as a guide to lead practicing Buddhists
to peace and well-being in terms both of the world and of the
Dhamma. Well-being in terms of the world includes such things
as fortune, status, praise, and pleasure. These four things
depend on our conducting ourselves properly along the right
path. If we follow the wrong path, though, we are bound to
meet with loss of fortune, loss of status, censure and
criticism, suffering and pain. The fact that we experience
these things may well be due to deficiencies in our own
conduct. So if our practice of the right path the Noble
Eightfold Path is to lead us to peace in terms both of the
world and of the Dhamma, we will first have to study it so
that we understand it rightly and then conduct ourselves in
line with its factors. Then, if we have aims in terms of the
world, we'll get good results. Our fortune, status, good name,
and pleasure will be solid and lasting. Even after we die,
they will continue to appear in the world.
If, however, we
see that fortune, status, praise, and pleasure are inconstant,
undependable, and subject to change, we should immediately
start trying to study and develop the qualities that will lead
our hearts in the direction of peace. We are then sure to meet
with results that parallel those of the world. For example,
status the paths of stream-entry, once-returning,
nonreturning, and arahantship; fortune the gaining of the
fruition of stream-entry, once-returning, nonreturning, and
arahantship: These forms of status and fortune don't
deteriorate. They stay with us always. At the same time, we'll
receive praise and pleasure in full measure, inasmuch as
Buddhists chant in praise virtually every night and day that,
"The followers of the Blessed One conduct themselves well,
conduct themselves uprightly, conduct themselves for the sake
of knowledge, conduct themselves masterfully." Similarly, our
pleasure will be solid and lasting, steeping and refreshing
the heart with the Dhamma, not subject to death or decay. This
is called "niramisa sukha," pleasure free from the
baits of the world; quiet and cool, genuine and unchanging,
the pleasure for which people who practice the Buddha's
teachings aspire. Like gold: No matter in what land or nation
it may fall, it remains gold by its very nature and is bound
to be desired by people at large. In the same way, the mental
traits of people who follow the right path in terms of the
Dhamma are bound to give rise to genuine pleasure and ease.
Even when they die from this world, their fortune, status,
good name, and pleasure in terms of the Dhamma will not leave
who aim at progress and happiness should study, ponder, and
put into practice as far as they can all eight factors of
the Noble Path set out here as a guide to practice. There may,
however, be some mistakes in what is written here, because I
have aimed more at the meaning and practice than at the letter
of the scriptures. So wherever there may be mistakes or
deficiencies, please forgive me. I feel certain, though, that
whoever practices in line with the guidelines given here is
sure to meet to at least some extent with ease of body and
mind in terms both of the world and of the Dhamma, in
accordance with his or her own practice and conduct.
May each and
every one of you meet with progress and happiness.
Phra Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo
All of the
Buddha's teachings and their practice can be summed up in a
mere eight factors
Right View: seeing in line with the truth.
II. Right Resolve: thinking in ways that will lead to
III. Right Speech: speaking in line with the truth.
IV. Right Action: being correct and upright in one's
Right Livelihood: maintaining oneself in ways that are
honest and proper.
VI. Right Effort: exerting oneself in line with all that
VII. Right Mindfulness: always being mindful of the
person or topic that forms one's point of reference.
VIII. Right Concentration: keeping the mind correctly
centered in line with the principles of the truth, not
letting it fall into the ways of Wrong Concentration.
Right View: "Seeing in line with the truth" means seeing
the four Noble Truths
Dukkha: physical and mental stress and discomfort.
Samudaya: the origin of physical and mental stress,
i.e., ignorance and such forms of craving as sensual desire.
Right View sees that these are the causes of all stress.
Nirodha: the ending and disbanding of the causes of
stress, causing stress to disband as well, leaving only the
unequaled ease of nibbana.
Magga: the practices that form a path leading to the end
of the causes of stress, i.e., ignorance (avijja)
false knowledge, partial and superficial; and craving
(tanha) struggling that goes out of proportion to the
way things are. Both of these factors can be abandoned
through the power of the Path, the practices we need to
bring to maturity within ourselves through circumspect
discernment. Discernment can be either mundane or
transcendent, but only through the development of
concentration can transcendent discernment or insight arise,
seeing profoundly into the underlying truth of all things in
In short, there
are two sides to Right View:
shoddy thoughts, words, and deeds lead to stress and
suffering for ourselves and others;
and that good
knowing, properly giving rise to good in our thoughts,
words, and deeds, leads to ease of body and mind for
ourselves and others. In other words, Right View sees that
shoddiness is something that good people don't like, and
that shoddy people don't like it either. This is what is
meant by seeing in line with the truth. For this reason,
people of discernment should always act in ways that are
good and true if they are to qualify as having Right View.
Right Resolve: There are three ways of thinking that will
lead to well-being
Nekkhamma-sankappa: resolving to shed the pleasures of
the senses which lie at the essence of the mental
Hindrances from the heart and mind.
Abyapada-sankappa: resolving to weaken, dismantle, and
destroy any evil in our thoughts; in other words, trying to
shed from the heart and mind any thoughts of ill will we may
have toward people who displease us.
Avihinsa-sankappa: resolving not to think in ways that
aim at punishing or doing violence to others, or in ways
that would lead to harm for other people or living beings.
No matter how good or evil other people may be, we don't
give rein to thoughts of envy, jealousy or competitiveness.
We can shed these things from the heart because they are
harmful to us and when we can do ourselves harm, there is
nothing to keep us from harming others.
In short, there
are two sides to Right Resolve:
at all times to abandon any shoddy or distressing traits
that defile the mind and cause it to suffer; the intention
to remove ourselves from this suffering, because traits of
this sort are a form of self-punishment in which we do
to develop within ourselves whatever will give rise to ease,
comfort, and pleasure for the mind, until we reach the point
where peace and ease are absolute: This is classed as having
good will toward ourselves. Only then can we qualify as
having Right Resolve.
III. Right Speech: Speaking in line with the truth has
Not speaking divisively, e.g., talking about this person
to that person so as to give rise to misunderstandings
leading to a falling-out between the two.
Not speaking harsh or vulgar words, casting aspersions
on a person's family, race, or occupation in ways that are
considered base by the conventions of the world.
Not speaking idly, i.e., in ways that are of no benefit
to the listener for instance, criticizing or gossiping
about the faults of other people in ways that don't serve to
remind our listeners to correct their own faults; or
grumbling, i.e., complaining over and over about something
until our listeners can't stand it any longer, the way a
drunkard grumbles repeatedly without saying anything
worthwhile; or speaking extravagantly even if what we say
may be good, if it goes over our listeners' heads it serves
no purpose; or babbling, i.e., speaking excessively without
any aim: Talking at great length without really saying
anything serves no purpose at all, and fits the phrase, "A
waste of words, a waste of breath, a waste of time."
anything bad or untrue.
things that are true and good, that will give knowledge to
our listeners or bring them to their senses. Even then,
though, we should have a sense of time, place, and situation
if our words are to qualify as Right Speech. Don't hope to
get by on good words and good intentions alone. If what you
say isn't right for the situation, it can cause harm.
Suppose, for instance, that another person does something
wrong. Even though you may mean well, if what you say
strikes that person the wrong way, it can cause harm.
There's a story
they tell about a monk who was walking across an open field
and happened to meet up with a farmer carrying a plow over his
shoulder and a hoe in his hand, wearing a palm-leaf hat and a
waistcloth whose ends weren't tucked in. On seeing the monk,
the farmer raised his hands in respect without first putting
himself in order. The monk, meaning well, wanted to give the
farmer a gentle reminder and so said, "Now, that's not the way
you pay respect to a monk, is it?" "If it isn't," the farmer
replied, "then to hell with it." As a result, the gentle
reminder ended up causing harm.
Right Action: being upright in our activities. With
reference to our personal actions, this means adhering to the
three principles of virtuous conduct
Not killing, harming or harassing other people or living
Not stealing, concealing, embezzling, or
misappropriating the belongings of other people.
Not engaging in immoral or illicit sex with the children
or spouses of other people.
With reference to
our work in general, Right Action means this: Some of our
undertakings are achieved through our physical activity.
Before engaging in them, we should first evaluate them to see
just how beneficial they will be to ourselves and others, and
to see whether or not they are clean and pure. If we see that
they will cause suffering or harm, we should refrain from them
and choose only those activities that will lead to ease,
convenience, and comfort for ourselves and others.
includes every physical action we take: sitting, standing,
walking, and lying down; the use of every part of the body,
e.g., grasping or taking with our hands; as well as the use of
our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling. All
of this counts as physical activity or action.
can be divided into five sorts:
Government: undertaking responsibility to aid and assist the
citizens of the nation in ways that are honest and fair;
giving them protection so that they can all live in
happiness and security. For example: (1) protecting
their lives and property so that they may live in safety and
freedom; (2) giving them aid, e.g., making grants of
movable or immovable property; giving support so that they
can improve their financial standing, their knowledge, and
their conduct, establishing standards that will lead the
country as a whole to prosperity "A civilized people
living in a civilized land" under the rule of justice,
termed "dhammadhipateyya," making the Dhamma
Agriculture: putting the land to use, e.g., growing crops,
running farms and orchards so as to gain wealth and
prosperity from what is termed the wealth in the soil.
Industry: extracting and transforming the resources that
come from the earth but in their natural state can't give
their full measure of ease and convenience, and thus need to
be transformed: e.g., making rice into flour or sweets;
turning fruits or tubers into liquid for instance, making
orange juice; making solids into liquids e.g., smelting
ore; or liquids into solids. All of these activities have to
be conducted in honesty and fairness to qualify as Right
Commerce: the buying, selling, and trading of various
objects for the convenience of those who desire them, as a
way of exchanging ease, convenience, and comfort with one
another on high and low levels, involving high and
low-quality goods, between people of high, low, and middling
intelligence. This should be conducted in honesty and
fairness so that all receive their share of justice and
Labor: working for hire, searching for wealth in line with
the level of our abilities, whether low, middling, or high.
Our work should be up to the proper standards and worthy
in all honesty and fairness of the wages we receive.
In short, Right
and honest, faithful to our duties at all times;
objects with which we deal so that they can become clean and
honest, too. Clean things whether many or few are always
good by their very nature. Other people may or may not know,
but we can't help knowing each and every time.
Thus, before we
engage in any action so as to make it upright and honest, we
first have to examine and weigh things carefully, being
thoroughly circumspect in using our judgment and intelligence.
Only then can our actions be in line with right moral
Right Livelihood. In maintaining ourselves and supporting
our families, expending our wealth for the various articles we
use or consume, we must use our earnings coming from our
Right Actions in ways that are in keeping with moral
principles. Only then will they provide safety and security,
fostering the freedom and peace in our life that will help
lead to inner calm. For example, there are four ways of using
our wealth rightly so as to foster our own livelihood and that
of others, providing happiness for all
Charity: expending our wealth so as to be of use to the
poor, sick, needy, or helpless who merit the help of people
who have wealth, both inner and outer, so that they may live
in ease and comfort.
Support: expending what wealth we can afford to provide for
the ease and comfort of our family and close friends.
expending our wealth or our energies for the sake of the
common good for example, by helping the government either
actively or passively. "Actively" means donating a sum of
money to a branch of the government, such as setting up a
fund to foster any of its various activities. "Passively"
means being willing to pay our taxes for the sake of the
nation, not trying to be evasive or uncooperative. Our
wealth will then benefit both ourselves and others.
Offerings (danapuja): This means making gifts of the
four necessities of life to support Buddhism. This is a way
of paying homage to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha that will
serve the purposes of the religion. At the same time, it's a
way of earning inner wealth, termed "ariyadhana." A
person observing the principles of Right Livelihood who does
this will reap benefits both in this life and in the next.
The wealth we
have rightfully earned, though, if we don't have a sense of
how to use it properly, can cause us harm both in this life
and in lives to come. Thus, in expending our wealth in the
area of charity, we should do so honestly. In the area of
support, we should use forethought and care. The same holds
true in the areas of aid and offerings. Before making
expenditures, we should consider the circumstances carefully,
to see whether or not they're appropriate. If they aren't,
then we shouldn't provide assistance. Otherwise, our wealth
may work to our harm. If we provide help to people who don't
deserve it for instance, giving assistance to thieves the
returns may be detrimental to our own situation. The same
holds true in making offerings to the religion. If a monk has
no respect for the monastic discipline, doesn't observe the
principles of morality, neglects his proper duties the
threefold training and instead behaves in ways that are
deluded, misguided, and deceitful, then whoever makes
offerings to such a monk will suffer for it in the end, as in
with fools and they'll lead you astray;
Make friends with the wise and they'll show you the way.
Make friends with the evil and you'll end up threadbare,
And the fruit of your evil is: No one will care.
Now, we may think
that a monk's evil is his own business, as long as we're doing
good. This line of thinking ought to be right, but it may turn
out to be wrong. Suppose, for instance, that a group of people
is playing cards in defiance of the law. You're not playing
with them, you're just sitting at the table, watching. But if
the authorities catch you, they're sure to take you along with
the group, no matter how much you may protest your innocence.
In the same way, whoever makes offerings without careful
forethought may end up reaping harm, and such a person can't
be classified as maintaining Right Livelihood.
In short, there
are two sides to Right Livelihood:
have a sense of how to use our wealth so as to maintain
ourselves in line with our station in life, being neither
too miserly nor too extravagant.
give help to other people, as we are able, so as to provide
them with comfort and well-being. This is what it means to
maintain Right Livelihood.
Right Effort. There are four ways of exerting ourselves in
line with the Dhamma
a persistent effort to abandon whatever evil there is in
your conduct. For example, if you've given yourself over to
drinking to the point where you've become alcoholic,
spoiling your work, wasting your money and yourself,
creating problems in your family, this is classed as a kind
of evil. Or if you've given yourself over to gambling to the
point where you've lost all sense of proportion, blindly
gambling your money away, creating trouble for yourself and
others, this too is classed as a kind of evil. Or if you've
let yourself become promiscuous, going from partner to
partner beyond the bounds of propriety, this can be damaging
to your spouse and children, wasting your money, ruining
your reputation, and so is classed as a kind of evil, too.
Or if you've been associating with the wrong kind of people,
troublemakers and debauched types who will pull you down to
their level, this will cause you to lose your money, your
reputation, and whatever virtue you may have. Thus, each of
these activities is classed as an evil a doorway to ruin
and to the lower realms so you should make a persistent
effort to abandon each of them completely.
a persistent effort to prevent evil from arising; and use
restraint to put a halt to whatever evil may be in the
process of arising as when greedy desires that go against
the principles of fairness appear within you. For instance,
suppose you have a ten-acre plot of land that you haven't
utilized fully, and yet you go infringing on other people's
property: This is classed as greedy desire, a path to
trouble and suffering for yourself and others. Now, this
doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to eat and live, or
that you aren't allowed to work and search for wealth.
Actually, those who have the enterprise to make whatever
land or wealth they own bear fruit, or even increasing
fruit, were praised by the Buddha as "utthana-sampada,"
enterprising, industrious people who will gain a full
measure of welfare in this lifetime. Greedy desires, here,
mean any desires that go beyond our proper limits and
infringe on other people. This sort of desire is bound to
cause harm and so is classed as a kind of evil. When such a
desire arises in the heart, you should use restraint to put
a halt to it. This is what is meant by preventing evil from
is anger, arising from either good or bad intentions that,
when unfulfilled, lead to feelings of irritation and
dissatisfaction. Such feelings should be stilled. Don't let
them flare up and spread, for anger is something you don't
like in other people, and they don't like it in you. Thus
it's classed as a kind of evil. You should exert restraint
and keep your mind on a steady and even keel. Your anger
won't then have a chance to grow and will gradually fade
away. This is what's meant by making a persistent effort to
keep evil from taking root and sprouting branches.
delusion (moha) knowledge that doesn't fit the
truth: You shouldn't jump to conclusions. Restrain yourself
from making snap judgments so that you can first examine and
consider things carefully. For instance, sometimes you
understand right to be wrong, and wrong to be right: This is
delusion. When right looks wrong to you, your thoughts,
words, and deeds are bound to be wrong, out of line with the
truth, and so can cause you to slip into ways that are evil.
When wrong looks right to you, your thoughts, words, and
deeds are also bound to be wrong and out of line with the
truth. Suppose that a black crow looks white to you; or an
albino buffalo, black: When people who see the truth meet up
with you, disputes can result. This is thus a form of evil.
Or suppose that you have good intentions but act out of
delusion: If you happen to do wrong for example, giving
food to monks at times when they aren't allowed to eat, all
because of your own ignorance and delusion you'll end up
causing harm. Therefore, you should be careful to observe
events and situations, searching for knowledge so as to keep
your thoughts and opinions in line. Delusion then won't have
a chance to arise. This is classed as making an effort to
exercise restraint so that evil won't arise.
As for whatever
evil you've already abandoned, don't let it return. Cut off
the evil behind you and fend off the evil before you. Evil
will thus have a chance to fade away.
a persistent effort to give rise to the good within
yourself. For example
Saddha-sampada: Be a person of mature conviction
conviction in the principle of cause and effect;
conviction that if we do good we'll have to meet with
good, if we do evil we'll have to meet with evil. Whether
or not other people are aware of our actions, the goodness
we do is a form of wealth that will stay with us
Sila-sampada: Be a person of mature virtue, whose
words and deeds are in proper order, whose behavior is in
line with the principles of honesty leading to purity.
These are truly human values that we should foster within
Caga-sampada: Be magnanimous and generous in making
donations and offerings to others, finding reward in the
fruits of generosity. For example, we may give material
objects so as to support the comfort and convenience of
others in general: The fruits of our generosity are bound
to find their way back to us. Or we may be magnanimous in
ways that don't involve material objects. For instance,
when other people mistreat or insult us through
thoughtlessness or carelessness, we forgive them and don't
let our thoughts dwell on their faults and errors. This is
called the gift of forgiveness (abhaya-dana) or the
gift of justice (dhamma-dana). It brings the
Paρρa-sampada: Be a person of mature discernment,
whose thinking is circumspect and whose sense of reason is
in line with the truth.
All four of
these qualities are classed as forms of goodness. If they
haven't yet arisen within you, you should give rise to them.
They will reward you with well-being in body and mind.
a persistent effort to maintain the good in both of its
aspects: cause and effect. In other words, keep up whatever
good you have been doing; and as for the results mental
comfort, ease and light-heartedness maintain that sense of
ease so that it can develop and grow, just as a mother hen
guards her eggs until they turn into baby chicks with
feathers, tails, sharp beaks, and strong wings, able to fend
The results of
the good we have done, if we care for them well, are bound
to develop until they take us to higher levels of
attainment. For instance, when our hearts have had their
full measure of mundane happiness, so that we develop a
sense of enough, we're bound to search for other forms of
happiness in the area of the Dhamma, developing our virtue,
concentration, and discernment to full maturity so as to
gain release from all suffering and stress, meeting with the
peerless ease described in the phrase,
Nibbana is the ultimate ease, invariable and unchanging.
When we have
done good in full measure and have maintained it well until
it's firmly established within us, we should then make the
effort to use that good with discretion so as to benefit
people in general. In short: Do what's good, maintain what's
good, and have a sense of how to use what's good in
keeping with time, place, and situation so as to give rise
to the greatest benefit and happiness. Whoever can do all of
this ranks as a person established in Right Effort.
VII. Right Mindfulness. There are four foundations of
mindfulness or frames of reference for establishing the mind
Contemplation of the body as a frame of reference: Focus
mindfulness on the body as your frame of reference. The word
"body" refers to what is produced from the balance of the
elements or properties (dhatu): earth the solid
parts, such as hair of the head, hair of the body, nails,
teeth, skin, etc.; water the liquid parts, e.g., saliva,
catarrh, blood, etc.; fire warmth, e.g., the fires of
digestion; wind (motion) e.g., the breath; space the empty
places between the other elements that allow them to come
together in proper proportion; consciousness the awareness
that permeates and brings together the other elements in a
balanced way so that they form a body. There are four ways of
looking at the body
bodies: This refers to the bodies of other people. When you
see them, focus on the symptoms of the body that appear
externally as when you see a child suffering pain in the
process of being born, or a person suffering a disease that
impairs or cripples the body, or a person suffering the
pains and inconveniences of old age, or a dead person, which
is something disconcerting to people the world over. When
you see these things, be mindful to hold your reactions in
check and reflect on your own condition that you, too, are
subject to these things so that you will feel motivated to
start right in developing the virtues that will serve you as
a solid mainstay beyond the reach of birth, aging, illness,
and death. Then reflect again on your own body the "inner
body" as your next frame of reference.
inner body: the meeting place of the six elements earth,
water, fire, wind, space, and consciousness the body
itself forming the first four. Center your mindfulness in
the body, considering it from four angles:
Consider it as a group of elements.
Separate it into its 32 parts (hair of the head, hair of
the body, etc.).
Consider how the mingling of the elements leads to such
forms of filthiness as saliva, mucus, blood, lymph, and
pus, which permeate throughout the body.
Consider it as inconstant it's unstable, always changing
and deteriorating; as stressful it can't last no
matter what good or evil you may do, it changes with every
in-and-out breath; and as not-self some of its aspects,
no matter how you try to prevent them, can't help
following their own inherent nature.
viewed from any of these four aspects, can serve as a frame
of reference. But although our frame of reference may be
right, if we aren't circumspect and fully aware, or if we
practice in a misguided way, we can come to see wrong as
right to the point where our perceptions become skewed. For
example, if we see an old person, a sick person or a dead
person, we may become so depressed and despondent that we
don't want to do any work at all, on the level of either the
world or the Dhamma, and instead want simply to die so as to
get away from it all. Or in examining the elements earth,
water, fire, wind, space, and consciousness we may come to
the conclusion that what's inside is nothing but elements,
what's outside is nothing but elements, and we can't see
anything above and beyond this, so that our perception of
things becomes skewed, seeing that there's no "man," no
"woman." This is what can lead monks to sleep with women and
abandon their precepts, eating food in the evening and
drinking alcohol, thinking that it's only elements eating
elements so there shouldn't be any harm. Or we may consider
the filthy and unattractive aspects of the body until we've
reach a point where things seem so foul and disgusting that
we can't eat at all and simply want to escape. Some people,
on reaching this point, want to jump off a cliff or into the
river to drown. Or we may view things as inconstant,
stressful, and not-self, but if we act deludedly, without
being circumspect in our discernment, the mind can become a
turmoil. If our foundation our concentration isn't
strong enough for this sort of investigation, it can lead to
a distressing sense of alienation, of being trapped in the
body. This is called skewed perception, and it can lead to
corruptions of insight (vipassanupakkilesa), all
because we aren't circumspect and skilled in training the
mind. We may feel that we already know, but knowledge is no
match for experience, as in the old saying,
"To know is
no match for having done.
A son is no match for his father."
So in dealing
with this frame of reference, if we want our path to be
smooth and convenient, with no stumps or thorns, we should
focus on the sensation of the body in and of itself, i.e.,
on one of the elements as experienced in the body, such as
body in and of itself: Focus on a single aspect of the body,
such as the in-and-out breath. Don't pay attention to any
other aspects of the body. Keep track of just the breath
sensations. For example, when the breath comes in long and
goes out long, be aware of it. Focus on being aware at all
times of whether your breathing feels easy or difficult. If
any part of the body feels uncomfortable, adjust your
breathing so that all parts of the body feel comfortable
with both the in-breath and the out, and so that the mind
doesn't loosen its hold and run after any outside allusions
to past or future, which are the sources of the Hindrances
(nivarana). Be intent on looking after the in-and-out
breath, adjusting it and letting it spread so as to connect
and coordinate with the other aspects of the breath in the
body, just as the air stream in a Coleman lantern spreads
kerosene throughout the threads of the mantle. One of the
preliminary signs (uggaha nimitta) of the breath will
then appear: a sense of relief-giving brightness filling the
heart, or a lump or ball of white, like cotton-wool. The
body will feel at peace refreshed and full. The properties
(dhatu) of the body will be balanced and won't
interfere or conflict with one another. This is termed
kaya-passaddhi, kaya-viveka serenity and
solitude of the body.
awareness, it's expanded and broad mahaggatam cittam
sensitive throughout to every part of the body.
Mindfulness is also expanded, spreading throughout the body.
This is called the great frame of reference, enabling you to
know how cause and effect operate within the body. You'll
see which kinds of breath create, which kinds maintain, and
which kinds destroy. You'll see feelings of breath arising,
remaining, and disbanding; liquid feelings arising,
remaining, and disbanding; solid feelings arising,
remaining, and disbanding; feelings of warmth arising,
remaining, and disbanding; feelings of space arising,
remaining, and disbanding; you'll see consciousness of these
various aspects arising, remaining, and disbanding. All of
this you will know without having to drag in any outside
knowledge to smother the awareness that exists on its own,
by its very nature, within you, and is always there to tell
you the truth. This is termed mindfulness and alertness in
full measure. It appears as a result of self-training and is
called "paccattam": something that exists on its own,
knows on its own, and that each person can know only for him
or her self.
body in the mind: When the breath is in good order, clean
and bright, and the heart is clear, then internal visions
may appear from the power of thought. Whatever you may think
of, you can make appear as an image near or far, subtle or
gross, giving rise to knowledge or completely lacking in
knowledge, true or false. If you're circumspect, mindful,
and alert, these things can give rise to knowledge and
cognitive skill. If you aren't, you may fall for the images
you see. For example, you may think of going somewhere and
then see an image of yourself floating in that direction.
You center your awareness in the image and float along with
your thoughts until you get carried away, losing track of
where you originally were. This way, you get engrossed in
traveling through heaven or hell, meeting with good things
and bad, being pleased or upset by what you see. As a
result, your concentration degenerates because you aren't
wise to the nature of the image of the body in the mind.
If, though, you
can think to restrain your train of thought and focus on the
image as a phenomenon in the present, the image will return
to join your primary sense of the body. You'll then see that
they are equal in nature. Neither is superior to the other.
The nature of each is to arise, remain, and then dissolve.
Awareness is simply awareness, and sensations are simply
sensations. Don't fasten onto either. Let go of them and be
neutral. Be thoroughly mindful and alert with each mental
moment. This level of sensation, if you're adept and
knowledgeable, can lead to knowledge of previous lives (pubbenivasanussati-ρana),
knowledge of where living beings are reborn after death (cutupapata-ρana),
and knowledge that does away with the fermentations of
defilement (asavakkhaya-ρana). If you aren't wise to
this level of sensation, though, it can lead to ignorance,
craving, and attachment, causing the level of your practice
The image or
sensation that arises through the power of the mind is
sometimes called the rebirth body or the astral body. But
even so, you shouldn't become attached to it. Only then can
you be said to be keeping track of the body as a frame of
reference on this level.
Contemplation of feelings as a frame of reference: The mental
act of "tasting" or "savoring" the objects of the mind e.g.,
taking pleasure or displeasure in them is termed vedana,
or feeling. If we class feelings according to flavor, there
Sukha-vedana: pleasure and ease for body and mind.
Dukkha-vedana: stress and pain for body and mind.
Upekkha-vedana: neutral feelings, neither pleasure nor
If we class them
according to range or source, there are four:
feelings: feelings that arise by way of the senses as when
the eye meets with a visual object, the ear with a sound,
the nose with a smell, the tongue with a taste, the body
with a tactile sensation and a feeling arises in one's
awareness: contented (somanassa-vedana), discontented
(domanassa-vedana), or neutral (upekkha-vedana).
feelings: feelings that arise within the body, as when any
of the four properties earth, water, fire, or wind
change either through our present intentions or through the
results of past actions, giving rise to pleasure, pain, or
Feelings in and of themselves: feelings regarded simply as
part of the stream of feelings. For example, pleasure, pain,
and neutral feelings occur in different mental moments; they
don't all arise in the same moment. When one of them arises,
such as pain, focus right on what is present. If pleasure
arises, keep the mind focused in the pleasure. Don't let it
stray to other objects that may be better or worse. Stay
with the feeling until you know its truth: in other words,
until you know whether it's physical pleasure or mental
pleasure, whether it results from past actions or from what
you are doing in the present. Only when your mindfulness is
focused in this way can you be said to be viewing feelings
in and of themselves.
Feelings in the mind: moods that arise in the mind,
independent of any object. Simply by thinking we can give
rise to pleasure or pain, good or bad, accomplished entirely
through the heart.
Each of these
four kinds of feelings can serve as an object for tranquillity
and insight meditation. Each can serve as a basis for
Contemplation of the mind as a frame of reference: taking as
our preoccupation states that arise in the mind. The term
"mind" (citta) refers to two conditions awareness and
thinking. Awareness of thinking can cause the mind to take on
different states, good or bad. If we classify these states by
their characteristics, there are three: good, bad, and
mental states (kusala-citta) are of three sorts
Vitaraga-citta: the mind when it disentangles itself
from its desire or fascination with objects it likes or
Vitadosa-citta: the mind when it isn't incited or
roused to irritation by its objects.
Vitamoha-citta: the mind when it isn't deluded,
intoxicated, or outwitted by its objects.
mental states (akusala-citta) are also of three sorts
Saraga-citta: the mind engrossed in its affections and
Sadosa-citta: the mind irritated or aroused to anger.
Samoha-citta: the mind deluded and ignorant of the
Neutral mental states, which arise from being neither
pleased nor displeased, or when mental activity (kiriya)
occurs without affecting the condition of awareness for good
or bad are called "avyakata": indeterminate.
If we classify
mental states according to their range or source, there are
mental states: thoughts that run after allusions to past or
future, and may be either contented (this is termed
indulgence in pleasure, kamasukhallikanuyoga) or
discontented (this is termed indulgence in self-torture,
mental states: thoughts that arise within us with reference
to the present, either right or wrong, good or bad.
Mental states in and of themselves: mental fashioning
(citta-sankhara) the act of thinking arising from
awareness, the act of awareness arising from thinking,
taking such forms as consciousness, intellect, mindfulness,
alertness, discernment, knowledge. Whichever one of these
mental states may be arising and remaining in the present
moment, focus your attention exclusively on it. For example,
knowledge of a certain sort may appear, either on its own or
as the result of deliberation; it may or may not be
intended. Whatever arises, focus your mindfulness and
alertness on it until you know the stages in the workings of
the mind; knowing, for instance, which mental state is the
intentional act (kamma), which the result
(vipaka), and which mere activity (kiriya). Keep
focused exclusively on these states until you can see mental
states simply as mental states, knowledge simply as
knowledge, intelligence as intelligence. Be thoroughly
circumspect, mindful, and discerning at each mental moment
until you are able to let go of all mental states without
being caught up on what they are supposed to refer to, mean,
or represent. Only then can you be said to be keeping track
of mental states in and of themselves as a frame of
Contemplation of mental qualities as a frame of reference:
Mental qualities (dhamma) that can serve as bases for
mindfulness leading to peace and respite for the mind are of
mental qualities, i.e., the Hindrances, which are of five
Kamachanda: desire for the five types of sensual
objects visual objects, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile
sensations which can cause the mind to become restless.
Byapada: ill-will; stepping into a mood of discontent
that arises from certain sorts of individuals or
situations that, when we brood on them, cause the mind to
focus on what we find displeasing until it becomes
irritated and aroused.
Thina-middha: drowsiness, torpor, dullness, giving
rise to laziness, apathy, and discouragement.
Uddhacca-kukkucca: restlessness and anxiety; thinking
more than we want to or need; thoughts that go out of
control, drifting further and further away until we may
even lose sense of our own body. Thinking that has no
order or bounds is sure to cause harm.
Vicikiccha: doubt, hesitancy, uncertainty about issues
dealing with the world or the Dhamma: doubt about certain
individuals, about their teachings, about our own conduct
and practices. This comes from not having enough
mindfulness or alertness to keep the mind in check and
from not knowing where the Hindrances come from. We should
realize that to put it briefly the Hindrances come
from concepts that allude to either the past or the
future. So when we want to ward them off, we should let go
of these concepts and focus our attention in on the
present, and the Hindrances will weaken away.
mental qualities: The skillful mental qualities we should
foster within ourselves are five, counting their component
factors, and four, counting their levels, in other words
(a) The first
of jhana, which has five factors:
Vitakka: directed thought, focused on the object of
the mind's concentration, such as the breath.
evaluating and adjusting the breath so that it becomes
comfortable to the point where it spreads throughout the
entire body; coordinating and connecting the various
breath-sensations existing within us.
rapture, refreshment, fullness of body and mind.
pleasure, ease of body and mind.
Ekaggata: The mind enters into a single object, such
as the breath; i.e., all five of these factors deal with
a single topic.
second jhana has three factors:
The sense of refreshment and fullness for body and mind
becomes stronger, so that the mind abandons its directed
The sense of ease for body and mind becomes greater, so
that it can relieve mental discomfort. This leads the
mind to abandon its evaluating and adjusting (vicara).
Ekaggata: The mind enters into a subtle and gentle
level of breath, with a feeling of spaciousness and
relief throughout the body. This subtle breath bathes
and pervades the entire body, so that the mind becomes
absolutely snug with its one object.
(c) The third
jhana: The singleness of the mind's object becomes even
more refined, leaving just a feeling of ease of body and
mind, the result of steadying the mind in a single object.
This is called ekaggata-sukha all that remains is
singleness and ease.
fourth jhana: Upekkha the breath sensations in
the body are still, so that we can do without the
in-and-out breath. The still breath fills all the various
parts of the body. The four physical properties are all
quiet and still. The mind is still, having abandoned past
and future, entering into its object that forms the
present. The mind is firmly focused on one object: This is
ekaggata, the second factor of the fourth jhana.
Mindfulness and alertness are present in full measure and
thus give rise to mental brightness. When mindfulness is
strong, it turns into cognitive skill (vijja); when
alertness is strong, it turns into intuitive insight (vipassana-ρana),
seeing the truth of physical sensations (rupa) and
mental acts (nama), whether near or far, gross or
subtle, our own or those of others. This knowledge appears
exclusively within our own body and mind, and we can
realize it on our own: This is what is meant by the word,
Mental qualities in and of themselves. This refers to mental
qualities of another level that appear after the above
qualities have been developed. Intuitive knowledge arises,
udapadi": The eye of the mind, which sees in terms of
the Dhamma, arises within one.
udapadi": intuitive sensitivity, thoroughly
penetrating. This refers to the three forms of intuitive
knowledge beginning with the ability to remember previous
udapadi": Liberating discernment arises.
udapadi": Cognitive skill clear, open, penetrating,
and true arises within one.
These forms of
knowledge arise on their own not for ordinary people, but
for those who have developed concentration. Discernment,
here, refers to the discernment that comes from mental
training and development, not to the ordinary discernment
coming from concepts we've remembered or thought out. This
is discernment that arises right at the heart. Cognitive
skill (vijja), here, is a high level of knowledge,
termed pariρρaya dhamma: thorough comprehension that
arises within from having explored the four Noble Truths,
beginning with stress (dukkha), which is the result
of such causes (samudaya) as ignorance and craving.
Knowledge arises, enabling us to cut the tap root of stress
by performing the task of abandoning the cause. When this is
done, stress disbands and ceases; the cause doesn't flare up
again: This is nirodha. And the knowledge that steps
in to eliminate the cause of stress is the Path (magga),
the way leading to release from all stress and suffering,
made possible by the eye of the mind composed of
ρana-cakkhu: intuition as a means of vision;
paρρa-cakkhu: discernment as a means of vision;
vijja-cakkhu: cognitive skill as a means of vision.
This is the eye
of the mind.
In short, we
have: dukkha, physical and mental stress; and
samudaya, the cause of stress. These two are one pair of
cause and effect functioning in the world. Another pair is:
nirodha, the disbanding and cessation of all stress, and
magga-citta, the mind following the right path, causing
the causes of stress ignorance and craving to disband. In
other words, when the physical and mental stress from which we
suffer is ended through the power of the mind on the Path, the
mind is freed from all disruptions and fermentations, and
doesn't latch onto cause or effect, pleasure or pain, good or
evil, the world or the Dhamma. It abandons all supposings,
assumptions, wordings, and conventions. This is deathlessness
(amata dhamma), a quality that doesn't arise, doesn't
change, doesn't vanish or disband, and that doesn't fasten
onto any quality at all. In other words, it can let go of
conditioned phenomena (sankhata dhamma) and doesn't
fasten onto unconditioned phenomena (asankhata dhamma).
It lets go of each phenomenon in line with that phenomenon's
own true nature. Thus the saying: "Sabbe dhamma anatta"
No phenomenon is the self; the self isn't any phenomenon.
All supposings and assumptions all meanings are abandoned.
This is nibbana.
All of this is
called seeing mental qualities in and of themselves i.e.,
seeing the higher aspect of mental qualities that arises from
their more common side.
VIII. Right Concentration, the way to discernment,
knowledge and release: If we class concentration according to
how it's practiced in general, there are two sorts: right and
Concentration: Why is it called wrong? Because it doesn't give
rise to the liberating insight that leads to the transcendent
qualities. For example, after attaining a certain amount of
concentration, we may use it in the wrong way, as in magic
hypnotizing other people or spirits of the dead so as to have
them in our power, or exerting magnetic attraction so as to
seduce or dupe other people all of which causes the heart to
become deceitful and dishonest. Or we may use concentration to
cast spells and practice sorcery, displaying powers in hopes
of material reward. All of these things are based on nothing
more than momentary (khanika) concentration.
Another type of
Wrong Concentration is that used to develop forms of knowledge
falling outside of the Buddha's teachings and belonging to
yogic doctrines and practices: for example, staring at an
external object such as the sun or the moon or at certain
kinds of internal objects. When the mind becomes steady for a
moment, you lose your sense of the body and become fastened on
the object to the point where your mindfulness and alertness
lose their moorings. You then drift along in the wake of the
object in whatever direction your thoughts may take you: up to
see heaven or down to see hell, seeing true things and false
mixed together, liking or disliking what you see, losing your
bearings, lacking the mindfulness and alertness that form the
of Wrong Concentration is when after you've begun practicing
to the point where you've attained threshold (upacara)
concentration you then stare down on the present, focusing,
say, on the properties of breath, fire or earth, forbidding
the mind to think; staring down, getting into a trance until
the property becomes more and more refined, the mind becomes
more and more refined; using force to suppress the mind until
awareness becomes so dim that you lose mindfulness and
alertness and all sense of the body and mind: Everything is
absolutely snuffed out and still, with no self-awareness. This
is called the plane of non-perception (asaρρi-bhava),
where you have no perception of anything at all. Your
awareness isn't well-rounded, your mindfulness lacks
circumspection, and as a result discernment has no chance to
arise. This is called Wrong Concentration, Wrong Release, a
mental blank no awareness of past, present or future.
of Wrong Concentration is when we can give rise to momentary
concentration, threshold concentration, all the way to the
four levels of jhana, but aren't adept at entering and leaving
these levels, so that we focus in until only the property of
consciousness is left, with no sense of the body: This is
called arupa jhana. Bodily processes disappear, leaving
only the four types of mental acts, which form the four levels
of arupa jhana [see
The Craft of the Heart], the first being when we
focus on a feeling of space or emptiness. The mind attains
such a relaxed sense of pleasure that we may take it to be a
transcendent state or nibbana, and so we search no
further, becoming idle and lazy, making no further effort
because we assume that we've finished our task.
In short, we
simply think, or focus, without having any finesse in what
we're doing entering, leaving, or staying in place and as
a result our concentration becomes wrong.
Concentration: This starts with threshold concentration, which
acts as the basis for the four levels of jhana,
beginning with the first: vitakka, thinking of
whichever aspect of the body you choose to take as your
object, such as the four physical properties, starting with
the in-and-out breath. And then vicara: adjusting,
expanding, letting the breath sensations flow throughout the
body and at the same time evaluating the results you obtain.
For instance, if the body feels uncomfortable or constricted,
adjust the breath until it feels right throughout the body.
The mind then sticks to its single object: This is termed
ekaggata. When mindfulness enters into the body, keeping
the breath in mind, and alertness is present in full measure,
keeping track of the causes that produce results congenial to
body and mind, then your sense of the body will benefit.
Bathed with mindfulness and alertness, it feels light,
malleable and full saturated with the power of mindfulness
and alertness. The mind also feels full: This is termed
piti. When both body and mind are full, they grow quiet,
like a child who, having eaten his fill, rests quiet and
content. This is the cause of pleasure on the level of the
Dhamma, termed sukha. These factors, taken together,
form one stage of Right Concentration.
As you continue
practicing for a length of time, the sense of fullness and
pleasure in the body becomes greater. Ekaggata
interest and absorption in your one object becomes more
intense because you have seen the results it produces. The
mind becomes steady and determined, focused with full
mindfulness and alertness, thoroughly aware of both body and
mind, and thus you can let go of your thinking and evaluating,
and enter the second jhana.
The second jhana
has three factors. Ekaggata: Keep the mind with its one
object, the breath, which is now more subtle and refined than
before, leaving simply a feeling of piti, fullness of
body and mind. The sensations of the body don't clash with one
another. The four properties earth, water, fire, and wind
are properly balanced. The mind and body don't interfere with
each other, so both feel full and satisfied. The body feels
pleasant (sukha) solitary and quiet. The mind, too,
feels pleasant and at ease solitary and quiet. When you're
mindful, alert, and adept at doing this entering, staying in
place, and withdrawing side-benefits will result. For
example, knowledge of certain matters will arise either on its
own or after you've posed a question in the mind. Doubts about
certain issues will be put to rest. As the sense of bodily
pleasure grows stronger, the sense of mental pleasure and ease
grows stronger as well, and thus you can let go of the sense
of fullness. Awareness at this point becomes refined and so
can detect a subtle level of the breath that feels bright,
open, soothing, and spacious. This enables you to go on to the
The third jhana
has two factors, pleasure and singleness of preoccupation. The
pleasure you've been experiencing begins to waver in flashes
as it reaches saturation point and begins to change. You thus
become aware of another, subtler level of sensation, and so
the mind shifts to a sense of openness and emptiness. The
breath grows still, with no moving in or out, full in every
part of the body. This allows you to let go of the sense of
pleasure. The mind enters this stage through the power of
mindfulness and alertness. Awareness is tranquil and still,
bright in the present, steady and on its own. It lets go of
the breath and is simply observant. The mind is still, with no
shifting back and forth. Both breath and mind are independent.
The mind can let down its burdens and cares. The heart is
solitary and one, infused with mindfulness and alertness. When
you reach this stage and stay with it properly, you're
practicing the fourth jhana.
The fourth jhana
has two factors. Ekaggata: Your object becomes
absolutely one. Upekkha: You can let go of all thoughts
of past and future; the five Hindrances are completely cut
away. The mind is solitary, clear, and radiant. The six
properties earth, water, fire, wind, space, and
consciousness become radiant. The heart feels spacious and
clear, thoroughly aware all around through the power of
mindfulness and alertness. As mindfulness becomes tempered and
strong, it turns into intuitive knowledge, enabling you to see
the true nature of body and mind, sensations and mental acts,
past, present, and future.
happens, if you aren't skilled, you can become excited or
upset. In other words, you may develop
pubbenivasanussati-ρana, the ability to remember previous
lives. If what you see is good, you may get engrossed, which
will cause your mindfulness and alertness to weaken. If what
you see is bad or displeasing, you may get upset or
distressed, so intent on what you remember that your sense of
the present is weakened.
Or you may
develop cutupapata-ρana: The mind focuses on the
affairs of other individuals, and you see them as they die and
are reborn on differing levels. If you get carried away with
what you see, your reference to the present will weaken. If
you find this happening, you should take the mind in hand. If
anything pleasing arises, hold back and keep mindfulness firm.
Don't let yourself fall into kamasukhallikanuyoga,
contentment and delight. If anything bad or displeasing
arises, hold back because it can lead to
attakilamathanuyoga, discontentment and distress. Draw the
mind into the present and guard against all thoughts of
approval and disapproval. Keep the mind neutral. This is the
middle way, the mental attitude that forms the Path and gives
rise to another level of awareness in which you realize, for
instance, how inconstant it is to be a living being: When
things go well, you're happy and pleased; when things go
badly, you're pained and upset. This awareness enables you
truly to know the physical sensations and mental acts you're
experiencing and leads to a sense of disenchantment, termed
nibbida-ρana. You see all fashionings as inconstant,
harmful, stressful, and hard to bear, as lying beyond the
control of the heart.
At this point,
the mind disentangles itself: This is termed viraga-dhamma,
dispassion. It feels no desire or attraction; it doesn't gulp
down or lie fermenting in sensations or mental acts, past,
present, or future. It develops a special level of intuition
that comes from within. What you never before knew, now you
know; what you never before met with, now you see, through the
power of mindfulness and alertness gathering in at a single
point and turning into asavakkhaya-ρana, enabling you
to disentangle and free yourself from mundane states of mind
in proportion to the extent of your practice and so attain
the transcendent qualities, beginning with stream-entry.
All of this is
termed Right Concentration: being skilled at entering, staying
in place, and withdrawing, giving rise to
Intuition: correct, profound and penetrating;
correct views, in line with the truth;
in which you conduct yourself with full circumspection in
all aspects of the triple training, with virtue,
concentration, and discernment coming together in the heart.
This, then, is
Right Concentration. For the most part, people who have
attained true insight have done so in the four levels of jhana.
Although there may be others who have gone wrong in the
practice of jhana, we'll achieve the proper results if we
study so as to gain an understanding and adjust our practice
so as to bring it into line.
This ends the
discussion of Right Concentration.
All that we have
discussed so far can be summarized under three headings: Right
View and Right Resolve come under the heading of discernment;
Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood under the
heading of virtue; and Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and
Right Concentration under the heading of concentration. So
altogether we have virtue, concentration and discernment.
* * * * * * * *
There are three
levels of virtue
Hetthima-sila: normalcy of word and deed, which consists
of three kinds of bodily acts not killing, not stealing,
not engaging in sexual misconduct; and four kinds of speech
not lying, not speaking divisively, not saying anything
coarse or abusive, not speaking idly. If we class virtue on
this level according to the wording of the precepts and the
groups of people who observe them, there are four the five
precepts, the eight, the ten, and the 227 precepts all of
which deal with aspects of behavior that should be
abandoned, termed pahana-kicca. At the same time, the
Buddha directed us to develop good manners and proper
conduct in the use of the four necessities of life food,
clothing, shelter, and medicine so that our conduct in
terms of thought, word, and deed will be orderly and
becoming. This aspect is termed bhavana-kicca,
behavior we should work at developing correctly.
these precepts or rules dealing merely with words and
deeds forms the lower or preliminary level of virtue,
which is what makes us into full-fledged human beings (manussa-sampatti).
Majjhima-sila: the medium level of virtue, i.e., keeping
watch over your words and deeds so that they cause no harm;
and, in addition, keeping watch over your thoughts so as to
keep our mental kamma upright in three ways
Anabhijjha-visamalobha: not coveting things that do
not belong to you and that lie beyond your scope or
powers; not focusing your thoughts on such things; not
building what are called castles in the air. The Buddha
taught us to tend to the wealth we already have so that it
can grow on its own. The wealth we already have, if we use
our intelligence and ingenuity, will draw more wealth our
way without our having to waste energy by being covetous
or greedy. For example, suppose we have a single banana
tree: If we water it, give it fertilizer, loosen the soil
around its roots, and protect it from dangers, our single
banana tree will eventually give rise to an increase of
other banana trees. In other words, if we're intelligent
we can turn whatever wealth we have into a basis for a
livelihood. But if we lack intelligence if our hearts
simply want to get, without wanting work then even if we
acquire a great deal of wealth, we won't be able to
support ourselves. Thus, greed of this sort, in which we
focus our desires above and beyond our capabilities, is
classed as a wrong kind of mental action.
Abyapada: abandoning thoughts of ill will, hatred, and
vengeance, and developing thoughts of good will instead;
thinking of the good aspects of the people who have
angered us. When people make us angry it comes from the
fact that our dealings with them in which we associate
with and assist one another sometimes lead to
disappointment. This gives rise to dislike and irritation,
which in turn cause us to brood, so that we develop hurt
feelings that grow into anger and thoughts of retaliation.
Thus we should regard such people from many angles, for
ordinarily as human beings they should have some
good to them. If they don't act well toward us, they may
at least speak well to us. Or if they don't act or speak
well to us, perhaps their thoughts may be well-meaning to
at least some extent. Thus, when you find your thoughts
heading in the direction of anger or dislike, you should
sit down and think in two ways
Try to think of whatever ways that person has been good
to you. When these things come to mind, they'll give
rise to feelings of affection, love, and good will. This
is one way.
Anger is something worthless, like the scum floating on
the surface of a lake. If we're stupid, we won't get to
drink the clean water that lies underneath; or if we
drink the scum, we may catch a disease. A person who is
bad to you is like someone sunk in filth. If you're
stupid enough to hate or be angry with such people, it's
as if you wanted to go sit in the filth with them. Is
that what you want? Think about this until any thoughts
of ill will and anger disappear.
Samma-ditthi: abandoning wrong views and mental
darkness. If our minds lack the proper training and
education, we may come to think that we and all other
living beings are born simply as accidents of nature; that
"father" and "mother" have no special meaning; that good
and evil don't exist. Such views deviate from the truth
and can dissuade us from restraining the evil that lies
within us and from searching for and fostering the good.
To believe that there's no good or evil, that death is
annihilation, is Wrong View a product of short-sighted
thinking and poor discernment, seeing things for what they
aren't. So we should abandon such views and educate
ourselves, searching for knowledge of the Dhamma and
associating with people wiser than we, so that they can
show us the bright path. We'll then be able to reform our
views and make them Right, which is one form of mental
this level, when we can maintain it well, will qualify us
to be heavenly beings. The qualities of heavenly beings,
which grow out of human values, will turn us into human
beings who are divine in our virtues, for to guard our
thoughts, words, and deeds means that we qualify for
heaven in this lifetime. This is one aspect of the merit
developed by a person who observes the middle level of
Uparima-sila: higher virtue, where virtue merges with
the Dhamma in the area of mental activity. There are two
sides to higher virtue
Pahana-kicca: qualities to be abandoned, which are of
Kamachanda: affection, desire, laxity,
(2) Byapada: ill will and hatred.
(3) Thina-middha: discouragement,
(4) Uddhacca-kukkucca: restlessness and
(5) Vicikiccha: doubt, uncertainty,
will (byapada) lies at the essence of killing (panatipata),
for it causes us to destroy our own goodness and that of
others and when our minds can kill off our own goodness,
what's to keep us from killing other people and animals as
Restlessness (uddhacca) lies at the essence of
taking what isn't given (adinnadana). The mind
wanders about, taking hold of matters concerning other
people, sometimes their good points, sometimes their bad.
To fasten onto their good points isn't too serious, for it
can give us at least some nourishment. As long as
we're going to steal other people's business and make it
our own, we might as well take their silver and gold.
Their bad points, though, are like trash they've thrown
away scraps and bones, with nothing of any substance
and yet even so we let the mind feed on them. To know that
other people are possessive of their bad points and guard
them well, and yet still to take hold of these things to
think about, should be classed as a form of taking what
Sensual desires (kamachanda) lie at the essence of
sensual misconduct. The mind feels an attraction for
sensual objects thoughts of past or future sights,
sounds, smells, tastes, or tactile sensations or for
sensual defilements passion, aversion, or delusion to
the point where we forget ourselves. Mental states such as
these can be said to overstep the bounds of propriety in
Doubt (vicikiccha) lies at the essence of lying. In
other words, our minds are unsure, with nothing reliable
or true to them. We have no firm principles and so drift
along under the influence of all kinds of thoughts and
Drowsiness (thina-middha) is intoxication
discouragement, dullness, forgetfulness, with no
mindfulness or restraint watching over the mind. This is
what it means to be drugged or drunk.
All of these
unskillful qualities are things we should eliminate by
training the heart along the lines of:
Bhavana-kicca: qualities to be developed
Mindfulness (sati): Start out by directing your
thoughts to an object, such as your in-and-out
breathing. Use mindfulness to steady the mind in its
object throughout both the in-breath and the out-.
Vitakka, this sort of directed thought, is what
kills off sensual desires, in that the discipline of
mindfulness keeps the mind from slipping off into
Vicara: Evaluate and be observant. Be sensitive
to whether or not you've received a sense of comfort and
relaxation from your in- and out-breathing. If not, tend
to the breath and adjust it in a variety of ways: e.g.,
in long and out long, in long and out short, in short
and out short, in short and out long, in slow and out
slow, in fast and out fast, in gently and out gently, in
strong and out strong, in throughout the body and out
throughout the body. Adjust the breath until it gives
good results to both body and mind, and you'll be able
to kill off feelings of ill will and hatred.
Piti: When you get good results for instance,
when the subtle breath sensations in the body merge and
flow together, permeating the entire sense of the body
the breath is like an electric wire; the various parts
of the body, such as the bones, are like electricity
poles; mindfulness and alertness are like a power
source; and awareness is thus bright and radiant. Both
body and mind feel satisfied and full. This is piti,
or rapture, which can kill off feelings of drowsiness.
Sukha: Now that feelings of restlessness and
anxiety have disappeared, a sense of pleasure and ease
for body and mind arises. This pleasure is what kills
Ekaggata: Doubts and uncertainty fade into the
distance. The mind reaches oneness of object in a state
of normalcy and equilibrium. This normalcy of mind,
which is maintained through the power of the discipline
of mindfulness (sati-vinaya), forms the essence
of virtue: firmness, steadiness, stability. And the
resulting flavor or nourishment of virtue is
tranquillity, light-heartedness, and a sense of
independence for the mind. When freedom of this sort
arises within us, this is called the development of
silanussati, the mindfulness of virtue. This is
virtue that attains excellence leading to the paths,
their fruitions, and nibbana and thus can be
called uparima-sila, higher virtue.
there are three levels of virtue: external, intermediate, and
internal. In ultimate terms, however, there are two
Mundane virtue: virtue connected with the world, in which we
maintain the principles of ordinary human morality but are
as yet unable to reach the transcendent levels:
stream-entry, once-returning, nonreturning, and arahantship.
We can't yet cut the Fetters (sanyojana) that tie the
heart to the influences of all the worlds. This is thus
called mundane virtue.
Transcendent virtue: virtue that's constant and sure, going
straight to the heart, bathing the heart with its
nourishment. This arises from the practice of tranquillity
meditation and insight meditation. Tranquillity meditation
forms the cause, and insight meditation the result:
discovering the true nature of the elements, aggregates (khandhas),
and senses; seeing clearly the four Noble Truths, in
proportion to our practice of the Path, abandoning the first
three of the Fetters
Sakkaya-ditthi (self-identity views): the views that
see the body or the aggregates as in the self or as
belonging to the self. Ordinarily, we may be convinced
that views of this sort are mistaken, yet we can't really
abandon them. But when we clearly see that they're wrong
for sure, this is called Right View seeing things as
they truly are which can eliminate such wrong views as
seeing the body as belonging to the self, or the self as
the five aggregates, or the five aggregates as in the
Vicikiccha: doubt concerning what's genuine and true,
and what's counterfeit and false. The power of Right View
allows us to see that the quality to which we awaken
exists at all times; and that the true qualities enabling
us to awaken also exist and are made effective through the
power of the practices we're following. Our knowledge is
definite and true. Our doubts concerning the virtues of
the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are cleared up for good.
This is called becoming a niyata-puggala, a person
who is certain and sure.
Silabbata-paramasa: When the heart abandons this
Fetter, it no longer fondles theories concerning moral
virtue; it's no longer stuck merely on the level of
manners and activities. Good and evil are accomplished
through the heart; activities and actions are something
separate. Even though people who reach this level do
good taking the precepts, making gifts and offerings, or
meditating in line with the good customs of the world
they're not caught up on any of these things, because
their hearts have reached the nourishment of virtue. They
aren't stuck on the particulars (byanjana), i.e.,
their actions and activities; nor are they stuck on the
purpose (attha), i.e., the meaning or intent of
their various good manners. Their hearts dwell in the
nourishment of virtue: tranquillity, stability, normalcy
of mind. Just as a person who has felt the nourishment
that comes from food permeating his body isn't stuck on
either the food or its flavor because he's received the
benefits of the nourishment it provides in the same way,
the hearts of people who have reached the essence of
virtue are no longer stuck on manners or activities,
particulars or purposes, because they've tasted virtue's
This is thus
classed as transcendent virtue, the first stage of
nibbana. Even though such people may be destined for
further rebirth, they're special people, apart from the
ordinary. Any person whose practice reaches this level can
be counted as fortunate, as having received dependable
wealth, like ingots of gold. Just as gold can be used as
currency all over the world because it has special value for
all human beings unlike paper currency, whose use is
limited to specific countries in the same way, a heart
that's truly attained virtue has a value in this life that
will remain constant in lives to come. Thus, a person who
has reached this level has received part of the Noble Wealth
of those who practice the religion.
* * * * * * * *
Kamavacara-khanika-samadhi: (momentary concentration in
the sensory realm): The mind keeps thinking, coming to rest,
and running along after skillful preoccupations either
internal or external on the sensory level (kamavacara-kusala):
sights, sounds, smells, flavors, tactile sensations, or ideas.
An example of this is when the mind becomes quiet and rested
for a moment as we sit chanting or listening to a sermon. In
other words, the mind grows still for momentary periods in the
same way that a person walks: One foot takes a step while the
other foot rests on the ground, providing the energy needed to
reach one's goal. This is thus called momentary concentration,
something possessed by people all over the world. Whether or
not we practice concentration, the mind is always behaving
this way by its very nature. This is what is called the "bhavanga-citta"
or "bhavanga-pada": The mind stops for a moment and
then moves on. In developing higher levels of concentration,
we have to start out with this ordinary level as our basis.
Otherwise, the higher levels probably wouldn't be possible.
Still, this level of concentration can't be used as a basis
for discernment, which is why we have to go further in our
Rupavacara-upacara-samadhi (threshold concentration in the
realm of form): This refers to the first jhana, in which the
mind comes inward to rest on a single preoccupation within the
body, fixing its attention, for example, on the in-and-out
breath. When the mind stays with its one object, this is
called ekaggata. At the same time, there's mindfulness
keeping the breath in mind: This is called vitakka. The
mind then adjusts and expands the various aspects of the
breath throughout the entire body, evaluating them mindfully
with complete circumspection: This is called alertness (sampajaρρa)
or vicara, which is what is aware of causes and
results. Mindfulness, the cause, is what does the work. Thus
vitakka and vicara cooperate in focusing on the
same topic. We are then aware of the results as they arise
feelings of fullness, pleasure, and ease (piti and
sukha) for body and mind. At this point, the mind lets
down its burdens and concerns to rest for a while, like a
person walking along who meets with something pleasing and
attractive, and so stops to look: Both feet are standing
still, stepping neither forward nor back.
If we aren't
skilled enough to go on any further, we'll then retreat. If we
see results such as signs and visions arising in the mind,
we may get excited and so cause our original preoccupation to
waver or fade. Like a person sitting on a chair: If he sees
something appealing in front of him, he may become so
interested that he leans forward and reaches out his hand; he
may even begin to budge a bit from his seat or stand up
completely. In the same way, if we get engrossed in visions,
thoughts, or views while we're engaged in threshold
concentration, we can become excited and pleased we may even
think that we've reached the transcendent and this can cause
our concentration to degenerate. If we try to do it again and
can't, we may then seize the opportunity to say that we've
gone beyond the practice of concentration, so that we can now
take the way of discernment thinking, pondering, and letting
go in line with nothing more than our own views and ideas.
This, though, is not likely to succeed, because our knowledge
has no firm basis or core, like a wheel with no axle or hub:
How can it get anywhere? The power of threshold concentration,
if we don't watch after it well, is bound to deteriorate, and
we'll be left with nothing but old, left-over concepts.
Rupavacara-appana-samadhi (fixed penetration in the realm
of form): This refers to the practice of all four levels of
rupa jhana. The first jhana has five factors: directed
thought, evaluation, fullness, pleasure, and singleness of
preoccupation. The second level has three: fullness, pleasure,
and singleness of preoccupation. The third has two: pleasure
and singleness of preoccupation; and the fourth has two:
equanimity and singleness of preoccupation.
in the realm of form means that the mind focuses on the
internal sense of the body, remaining steadily with a single
object such as the in-and-out breath until it reaches
jhana, beginning with the first level, which is composed of
directed thought, evaluation, fullness, pleasure, and
singleness of preoccupation. When you see results arising,
focus in on those results and they will then turn into the
second level, which has three factors: fullness, pleasure and
singleness of preoccupation. As your focus becomes stronger,
it causes the sense of fullness to waver, so you can now let
go of that sense of fullness, and your concentration turns
into the third jhana, in which only two factors are left:
pleasure and singleness of preoccupation. The mind has few
burdens; its focus is strong and the sense of inner light is
radiant. This causes the feeling of pleasure to waver, so that
you can let go of that sense of pleasure, and the mind attains
oneness in a very subtle preoccupation. The preoccupation
doesn't waver and neither does the mind. It stands firm in its
freedom. This is called equanimity and singleness of
preoccupation, which form the fourth jhana. Mindfulness is
powerful; alertness, complete. Both are centered on a single
pre-occupation without getting snagged on any other allusions
or perceptions. This mental state is called the fourth jhana,
which has two factors: Equanimity is the external attitude of
the mind; as for the real factors, they're mindfulness and
singleness, steady and firm.
experiences a sense of brightness, the radiance that arises
from its state of fixed penetration. Mindfulness and alertness
are circumspect and all-round, and so give rise to skill and
proficiency in practicing jhana in focusing, staying in
place, stepping through the various levels, withdrawing, going
back and forth. When the mind behaves as you want it to, no
matter when you practice, only then does this truly qualify as
fixed penetration, the basis for the arising of three
qualities: intuitive knowledge (ρana), discernment (paρρa)
and cognitive skill (vijja).
knowledge here refers to knowledge or sensitivity of a deep
and extraordinary sort. For example
Pubbenivasanussati-ρana: the ability to remember
Cutupapata-ρana: the ability to focus on the death and
rebirth of other living beings sometimes in good
destinations, sometimes in bad together with the causes
that lead them to be reborn in such ways. This gives rise to
a sense of weariness and disenchantment with sensations and
mental acts, body and mind.
Asavakkhaya-ρana: knowing how to put an end to the
defilements of the heart in accordance with the knowledge
the clear vision of the four Noble Truths that accompanies
the particular transcendent path reached. And there are
still other forms of extraordinary knowledge, such as
iddhividhi, the ability to display supernormal powers,
to make an image of oneself appear to other people;
dibbasota, clairaudience; dibbacakkhu,
clairvoyance i.e., the ability to see objects at
refers to discriminating knowledge, clear comprehension,
knowledge in line with the truth. For example
Attha-patisambhida: acumen with regard to aims and
results; thorough-going comprehension of cause and effect;
knowing, for example, how stress is caused by ignorance and
craving, and how the disbanding of stress is caused by the
intuitive discernment that forms the Path; comprehending the
meaning and aims of the Buddha's various teachings and
knowing how to explain them so that other people will
understand being able, for instance, to summarize a long
passage without distorting its meaning.
acumen with regard to mental qualities; knowing how to
explain deep and subtle points so that other people will
Nirutti-patisambhida: acumen with regard to different
languages. According to the texts, this includes knowing
foreign languages and the languages of various other living
beings by means of the eye of discernment (paρρa cakkhu).
Patibhana-patisambhida: acumen with regard to
expression; being fluent in making explanations and
quick-witted in debate; knowing the most strategic way to
All of these
forms of discernment can arise from training the mind to
attain fixed penetration. Vijja clear, open
knowledge, free from any further concealments; and aloka
brilliance, radiance streaming out in all directions
enable us to see the true nature of sensations and mental
acts, in accordance with our powers of intuitive discernment.
refers to clear, uncanny knowledge that arises from the mind's
being firmly fixed in jhana. There are eight sorts
Vipassana-ρana: clear comprehension of physical
sensations and mental acts (rupa, nama).
Manomayiddhi: psychic powers, influencing events through
the power of thought.
Iddhividhi: the ability to display powers, making one's
body appear in a variety of ways.
Cetopariya-ρana: the ability to know the mental states
of other people.
Pubbenivasanussati-ρana: the ability to remember
Asavakkhaya-ρana: the ability to put an end to the
fermentations that defile the heart.
Thus, jhana on
the level of fixed penetration is extremely important. It can
give us support on all sides on the level of the world and
of the Dhamma and can bring success in our various
activities, both in our worldly affairs and in our Dhamma
duties, leading us on to the transcendent.
there are two kinds of concentration:
which gives rise to mundane knowledge: This is termed
which helps us to fulfill our duties on the level of the
Dhamma, leading to vipassana-ρana or
asavakkhaya-ρana, the knowledge that enables us in
accordance with the discernment and cognitive skills that
arise to abandon or cut off completely the mental currents
that tend in the direction of the Fetters: This is termed
* * * * * * * *
Discernment is of
Sutamaya-paρρa: discernment that comes from studying.
Cintamaya-paρρa: discernment that comes from reflecting.
Bhavanamaya-paρρa: discernment that comes from
developing the mind.
Sutamaya-paρρa is the discernment that comes from having
listened a great deal, like the Venerable Ananda. Listening
here, though, includes studying and taking interest in a
variety of ways: paying attention, taking notes, asking
questions, and taking part in discussions so as to become
quick-witted and astute.
Education of all
kinds comes down to two sorts: (a) learning the basic units,
such as the letters of the alphabet, their sound and
pronunciation, so as to understand their accepted usage; and
(b) learning how to put them together for instance, how to
combine the letters so as to give rise to words and meanings
as when we complete our elementary education so that we won't
be at a loss when we're called on to read and write in the
course of making a living.
In the area of
the religion, we have to study the letters of the Pali
alphabet, their combinations, their meanings and
pronunciation. If we don't understand clearly, we should take
an interest in asking questions. If we have trouble
memorizing, we should jot down notes as a way of aiding our
memory and expanding our concepts. In addition, we have to
study by means of our senses. For example, when we see a
visual object, we should find out its truth. When we hear
sounds or words, we should find out their truth. When we smell
an aroma, we should consider it to see what it comes from. We
should take an interest in flavors so that we know what they
come from, and in tactile sensations the heat and cold that
touch the body by studying such things as the way weather
All of these
forms of education are ways of giving rise to astuteness
both in the area of the world and in the area of the Dhamma
because they constitute a basic level of knowledge, like the
primary education offered in schools.
Cintamaya-paρρa refers to thinking and evaluating so as to
learn the meaning and truth of one's beginning education. This
level of education draws out the meaning of the knowledge we
have gained through studying. When we gain information we
should reflect on it until we understand it so that we will be
led by our sense of reason and not by gullibility or
ignorance. This is like a person who has used his knowledge of
the alphabet to gain knowledge from books to complete his
secondary education. Such a person has reached the level where
he can think things through clearly.
In the area of
the Dhamma, the same holds true. Once we have learned the
basics, we should research and think through the content of
the Teaching until we give rise to an understanding so that we
can conduct ourselves correctly in line with the methods and
aims taught by the sages of the past. This level of
discernment is what prepares us to conduct ourselves properly
in line with the truths of the Doctrine and Discipline. This
is classed as an aspect of pariyatti dhamma, Dhamma on
the level of theory. By learning the language and meaning of
the Teaching, we can become astute as far as theory is
concerned; but if we don't use that knowledge to train
ourselves, it's as if we studied a profession such as law
but then went out to become bandits, so that our knowledge
wouldn't give its proper results. For this reason, we've been
taught still another method, which is the well-spring of
discernment or mastery i.e., the mental activity termed
Bhavanamaya-paρρa: discernment that arises exclusively
from training the mind in concentration. In other words, this
level of discernment isn't related to the old observations
we've gained from the past, because our old observations are
bound to obscure the new observations, imbued with the truth,
that can arise only right at the mind. When you engage in this
form of practice, focus exclusively on the present, taking
note of a single thing, not getting involved with past or
future. Steady the mind, bringing it into the present. Gather
virtue, concentration, and discernment all into the present.
Think of your meditation object and bring your powers of
evaluation to bear on it say, by immersing mindfulness in
the body, focusing on such objects as the in-and-out breath.
When you do this, knowledge will arise.
Intuitive knowledge of things we have never before studied or
known will appear. For example: pubbenivasanussati-ρana
the ability to remember our present life and past lives;
cutupapata-ρana the ability to know living beings as
they die and are reborn well or poorly, happily or miserably
knowing the causes and results of how they fare;
asavakkhaya-ρana the ability to cleanse ourselves of the
fermentations that defile the mind, thinning them out or
eliminating them altogether, as we are able. These three forms
of knowledge don't arise for people who simply study or think
things through in ordinary ways. They form a mental skill that
arises from the practice of concentration and are an aspect of
Dhamma on the level of practice (patipatti-dhamma).
"paρρa udapadi": Clear discernment of the true nature
of the elements (dhatu), aggregates, and senses arises.
We can focus on these things by way of the mind and know them
in terms of the four Noble Truths: stress (dukkha),
which arises from a cause (samudaya), i.e., ignorance
and craving; and then nirodha, the ceasing and
disbanding of stress, which occurs as the result of a cause,
i.e., the Path (magga), composed of practices for the
mind. These things can be known by means of the discernment
that arises exclusively and directly within us and is termed
the eye of discernment or the eye of Dhamma: the eye of the
mind, awakening from its slumbers.
The eight forms of cognitive skill, which follow the laws of
cause and effect means of practice that bring us results
can arise in a quiet mind.
Brightness, clarity, relief, and emptiness arise in such a
discernment that results from developing the mind differs from
the beginning stages of discernment that come from studying
and reflecting. Study and reflection are classed as Dhamma on
the level of theory, and can give only a preliminary level of
knowledge. They're like a person who has awakened but has yet
to open his eyes. The discernment that comes from developing
the mind, though, is like waking up and seeing the truth
past, present and future in all four directions. We can
clearly see stress, its cause, its disbanding, and the Path to
its disbanding, and so can absolutely abandon the first set of
Fetters. Our hearts will then flow to nibbana, just as
the water in a mountain cataract is sure to flow to the sea.
They will flow to their natural truth: the mental fullness and
completeness of a person who has practiced mental development
until discernment arises within. We will meet with a special
form of skill transcendent skill whose power will stay
with us always, a quality that's certain and sure, termed
certain truth, certain wisdom, making us people certain for
So this level of
discernment termed the discernment of liberating insight
is especially important. It arises on its own, not from
cogitating along the lines of old concepts we've learned, but
from abandoning them. Old concepts are what obscure the new
knowledge that's ready to arise.
The nature of
liberating insight is like an electric light: Simply press the
switch once, and things all around are made bright. In the
same way, when the mind reaches a stage of readiness, insight
will arise in a single mental instant, and everything will
become clear: elements, aggregates, and the sense media. We'll
know, on the one hand, what's inconstant (aniccam),
stressful (dukkham), and not-self (anatta); and
on the other hand, what's uncommon, i.e., niccam
what's constant and true; sukham true happiness,
termed niramisa-sukha; and atta the self. The
eye of the mind can know both sides and let go both ways. It's
attached neither to what's inconstant, stressful and not-self;
nor to what's constant (niccam), good (sukham),
and right (atta). It can let these things go, in line
with their true nature. The knowledge that comes from
discernment, cognitive skill, and intuitive insight, it can
let go as well. It isn't attached to views for there's yet
another, separate sort of reality that has no "this" or
"that." In other words, it doesn't have the view or conceit,
"I am." It lets go of the assumptions that, "That's the self,"
"That's not-self," "That's constant," "That's inconstant,"
"That arises," "That doesn't arise." It can let go of these
things completely. That's the Dhamma, and yet it
doesn't hold onto the Dhamma, which is why we say that the
Dhamma is not-self. It also doesn't hold on to the view that
says, "not-self." It lets go of views, causes, and effects,
and isn't attached to anything at all dealing with wordings or
meanings, conventions or practices.
This, then, is
discernment that arises from the development of the mind.
To summarize: The
discernment that comes from studying and reflecting is classed
as Dhamma on the level of theory. The discernment that comes
from developing the mind is classed as Dhamma on the level of
practice. The results that arise are two
Mundane discernment: comprehension of the world and the
Dhamma falling under mundane influences and subject to
Transcendent discernment: awareness that goes beyond the
ordinary, giving rise to clear realization within. People
who reach this level are said to have awakened and opened
their eyes, which is what is meant by "Buddho."
* * * * * * * *
everything, there are three main points
Virtue, which in terms of where its principles are found is
the Vinaya Pitaka.
Concentration, which in terms of where its principles are
found is the Suttanta Pitaka.
Discernment, which in terms of where its principles are
found is the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
terms of their meaning, they refer to three modes of behavior
to be developed
Virtue: keeping our words and deeds honest and in good
order. This is a means of killing off one of the causes of
stress, i.e., kama-tanha (sensual craving), mental
states that take pleasure in growing attached and involved
in sights, sounds, smells, flavors, tactile sensations, and
ideas, known through the senses of sight, hearing, smell,
taste, feeling, and ideation.
Concentration: steadying the mind in a single preoccupation,
not latching onto thoughts of the past or future, holding
fast to the present. Concentration is a means of killing off
bhava-tanha (craving to be what one isn't), i.e.,
mental states that stray off into thoughts of past and
future. The act of straying is craving for becoming, looking
for a new place to take birth. This is what is meant by "sambhavesin."
When concentration arises, the mind can let go of such
Discernment: circumspect knowledge that guards over the mind
to keep it from being influenced, involved, and attached.
Discernment is what enables us to abandon vibhava-tanha
(craving not to be what one is), in that the characteristic
of this form of craving is the wavering that occurs in the
mental moment arising in the present. This we can perceive
through intuitive discernment. Discernment knows stress;
intuitive knowledge cuts the root of stress; cognitive skill
clear knowledge of past, future, and present
distinguishes cause, result, and release, without being
attached: This is what's meant by the skill of release.
is the heart of the Buddha's teachings.
The third of the three collections forming the Pali Canon,
composed of systematic treatises based on lists of categories
drawn from the Buddha's teachings.
"worthy one" or "pure one," i.e., a person whose heart no
longer has any defilements and is thus not destined for
further rebirth. A title for the Buddha and the highest level
of his Noble Disciples.
"Noble Wealth," i.e., qualities that serve as "capital" in the
quest for liberation: conviction, virtue, conscience, fear of
evil, erudition, generosity, and discernment.
Sense media, i.e., the six senses (the five physical senses
plus the intellect) and their corresponding objects.
Event; phenomenon; the way things are in and of themselves;
quality both in its neutral and in its positive senses:
(1) the basic qualities into which natural phenomena
mental and physical can be analyzed; the terms in which
things are known by the sense of ideation. Also, any teaching
that analyzes phenomena into their basic terms. This is one
sense in which the Buddha's doctrine is his "Dhamma." (2)
The quality of one's heart and mind, as manifest by the
rectitude, fairness, compassion, composure, discernment, etc.,
revealed in one's actions. The manifestations can be
enumerated and prescribed as principles (again, "dhamma"
another sense in which the Buddha's doctrine is his Dhamma)
that can then be put into practice and developed as means of
removing shoddiness from the heart so that its genuine,
unchanging quality can become fully apparent from within: This
is the Buddha's Dhamma in its ultimate sense.
Element, property, potential. Basic forces that, when aroused
out of their latent state, cause activity on the physical or
psychological level. In traditional Thai physics, which is
based on the physics of the Pali Canon, the four dhatu of
earth, water, fire, and wind are said to permeate all matter
in latent or potential form. To become manifest, they have to
be aroused. Thus, for example, the act of starting a fire is
explained as the arousal of the fire-dhatu (tejas),
which already exists in the air and in the object to be
ignited. Once this is "seized," it clings to the fuel, and the
object will be on fire. The fire will continue burning as long
as tejas has sustenance to cling to. When it runs out of
sustenance or is forced to let go, it will grow quiet
returning to its normal, latent state and the individual
fire will go out.
On the level of
the human body, diseases are explained as resulting from the
aggravation or imbalance of any of these four physical
properties. Diseases are classified by how they feel: Fevers
are attributed to the fire property, dizziness and faintness
to the wind property, constipation to the earth property, etc.
Well-being is defined as a state in which none of these
properties is dominant. All are quiet, unaroused, balanced and
There are a
number of lists of dhatus given in the Pali Canon. The six
dhatus are the four physical properties plus space and
cognizance. The 18 dhatus are the six senses, their respective
objects, and the acts of consciousness associated with each.
Absorption in a single object or preoccupation. Rupa-jhana
refers to absorption in a physical sensation; arupa-jhana,
to absorption in a mental notion or state. When Ajaan Lee uses
the term "jhana" by itself, he is usually referring to
Acts of intention resulting in states of becoming and birth.
Ten guidelines for moral conduct not killing, not stealing,
not engaging in sexual misconduct, not lying, not speaking
divisively, not using coarse or vulgar language, not speaking
idly, not coveting, not harboring anger, holding right views.
Aggregate the component parts of sensory perception;
physical and mental phenomena as they are directly
experienced: rupa sensations, sense data; vedana
feelings of pleasure, pain, and indifference that result
from the mind's savoring of its objects; saρρa
labels, names, allusions; sankhara thought-formations
(see below); viρρana sensory consciousness.
The "unbinding" of the mind from sensations and mental acts,
preoccupations and suppositions. As this term is also used to
refer to the extinguishing of a fire, it carries the
connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. (The use of the
word "unbinding" to refer to the extinguishing of a fire is
best understood in light of the way fire was viewed at the
time of the Buddha. See "dhatu.")
Literally, "un-raw" pleasure, or pleasure "not of the flesh."
The bliss and ease of nibbana, a pleasure independent of
sensations or mental acts.
Disbanding, disappearance, cessation. In the absolute sense,
this refers to the utter disbanding of stress and its causes.
In an applied sense, it can refer to the temporary and partial
suppression of defilement and stress attained in tranquillity
meditation. The terms "sankhata-lakkhana nirodha" and
"bhujissaka nirodha" are used in this latter sense. The
first emphasizes that the "disbanding" experienced in
tranquillity is only a fashioned semblance of the true thing;
the second (literally, bondsman-disbanding) emphasizes that
this is a conditioned state, dependent on the presence of the
factors of jhana, in contrast to the ultimate sense of nirodha
(asesa-viraga nirodha, disbanding with no trace of
passion), which is total and unconditioned.
Hindrances; mental qualities that hinder the mind from
attaining concentration and discernment: sensual desire, ill
will, torpor & lethargy, restlessness & anxiety, and
name of the most ancient recension of the Buddhist scriptures
now extant and by extension of the language in which it
Usually, this term is used to describe a being seeking a place
to be born; generally regarded as an abject state. Here, Ajaan
Lee uses the term to describe the mind when it is searching
for an object to fasten onto.
Formation, compound, fashioning the forces and factors that
fashion things, the process of fashioning, and the fashioned
things that result. As the fourth khandha, this refers
to the act of fashioning thoughts, urges, etc. within the
mind. As a blanket term for all five khandhas, it
refers to all things, physical or psychological, fashioned by
Originally, a tumulus or burial mound enshrining relics of the
Buddha or objects associated with his life. Over the
centuries, however, this has developed into the tall, spired
monuments familiar in temples in Thailand, Sri Lanka and
Burma; and into the pagodas of China, Korea and Japan.
The second of the three collections forming the Pali Canon,
composed of discourses and other literary pieces related to
The first of the three collections forming the Pali Canon,
dealing with the disciplinary rules of the monastic order. The
Buddha's own name for the religion he founded was, "this
Dhamma-Vinaya" this doctrine and discipline.
Vipassanupakkilesa: Corruption of insight; intense
experiences that can happen in the course of meditation and
can lead one to believe that one has completed the path. The
standard list includes ten: light, psychic knowledge, rapture,
serenity, pleasure, extreme conviction, excessive effort,
obsession, indifference, contentment.
translation is in any way inaccurate or misleading, I ask
forgiveness of the author and reader for having unwittingly
stood in their way. As for whatever may be accurate
conducive to the aims intended by the author I hope the
reader will make the best use of it, translating it a few
steps further, into the heart, so as to attain those aims.
Katam puρρa mayham
sabbe bhagi bhavantu te.
May all living beings always live happily,
free from animosity.
May all share in the blessings
springing from the good I have done.