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Basic Doctrines of Early Buddhism

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Postgraduate Diploma in Buddhist Studies


Basic Doctrines of Early Buddhism



Prof. Asanga Tilakaratne

Wednesday 5:00-6:00 PM.



Themes to be discussed:


1.      Indian philosophical and religious background; Sramana and Brahmana traditions and eternalism (sassata vŒda) and annihilationism (uccheda-vŒda)

2.      Conceptual and philosophical foundations of Buddhism (doctrine of Paticca Samuppāda) 

3.      Buddhist concept of human being and reality

4.      Four Noble Truths; suffering, craving (thirst), Nirvana and path

5.      Mind in Buddhism

6.      Purification and liberation (Visuddhi and Vimutti)

7.      Thirty seven aspects of Enlightenment

8.      BhŒvana; calm and insight meditation (Samantha and Vipassana) and gradual attainment of arahant-hood (sotapatti, sakadagami, anagami and arahatta)

9.      Kamma and its result

10.  Early Buddhism; a general characterization









       1.   Rahula,Walpola. What The Buddha Taught. New York: Grove Press, 1974.

2.      Piyadassi Thera. The Buddha’s Ancient Path. Kandy: BPS.

3.      Wijesekera, H. The Three Signata. Kandy: BPS.

4.      Gethin, Rupert. Foundation of Buddhism. London: Oxford University Press, 1998.

5.      Santina, Peter Della. The Tree of Enlightenment. The Cooperate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, 1998.













Lecture 1 (Feb. 22, 2006)






      We are living in the era of globalization in which so many different parts of the world are inter-acting each other. Buddhist world is not different from this new trend. There are movements crossing boundaries of different Buddhist denominations. One of the significant movements is the searching the root of Buddhism, asking “what really the Buddha originally said?” Although we cannot exactly answer to this question academically, it is a meaningful quest of what the Buddha could say in the early scriptures. It is a question of “Early Buddhism.” In order to know about it, the study of Pali language is necessary because the early Buddhist texts are written in Pali.


       We know that any single movement cannot come out of nowhere. If there is a movement, it must come from the social background. Buddhism, a religious movement, also arose from the prevailed intellectual, political and cultural milieu of the Indian society in the 6th century B.C. The Buddha applied his teachings according to different levels of the people in his time.


       The Buddha, before he got enlightenment, had two extreme experiences of the time: one is an extreme of sensual indulgence (kāmasukhallikānu yoga), and another extreme is a severe ascetical practice (attakilamathānu yoga). The prince Siddhartha experienced the former in his luxurious life at the palace and he went through the latter after leaving the palace. He experienced that there was a “causal connection” between both extremes.


       It is remarkable that how this young prince could face such a deep and serious question of human existence, “life and death,” which we all experience without questioning. As a prince, he would raise the questions of more political problem such as war, economy and the welfare of his people. What he was captured by, however, was the universal problem: the reality of human suffering.


But, we can still ask: was his political backdrop useful? Maybe Yes. He would think, after he got enlightenment, that “is there any possibility to rule the people without killing or causing others to kill?” It is very interesting, in this connotation, to notice his first discourse in Benares: “to turn the Wheel of Dhamma.” In the ancient Indian society, the “Wheel (Cakra)” was the symbol of ruling power. He used a very political term from the beginning. Once it moves, this Dhamma-Cakra cannot be turn back by anybody. The motion will keep on. This indicates that the teachings of the Buddha have the social background.


There were already diverse traditions, spiritual practices, and terminologies in the society before the Buddha. Even though his achievement of the final freedom was unique, the Buddha was strongly influenced by those previous traditions. The Buddhism was a culmination of the spiritual movements of the time. The entire teachings of the Buddha, therefore, have to be considered in the particular contexts. The contextualization is very important for our study of the basic doctrines of early Buddhism.




Lecture 2 (March 1, 2006)



Rejection of Two Extremes: Eternalism and Annihilationism

Doctrine of Paticca SamuppŒda



       The “middle path” comes from the Buddha’s own experience. It was the way that he found through avoiding other two extremes. The Buddha, therefore, was not a messenger like other religious founders. He realized something in his own. There were groups of people before him in Indian society: a group of Vedic religious tradition, of Logical reasoning, and of Sayaµ abhiññŒ sacchikatvŒ who realized themselves. The Buddha belonged to this third group. Buddhism is a kind of Empiricism or Experientialism. Avoiding two extremes, the Buddha considered his own experience.


Then the question is arising: “Are these two extremes the parts of everyone’s experience?” The answer would be “No.” For ordinary people sensual indulgence (kāmasukhallikānu yoga) is essential part of human being and they are so much attached it. On the other hand, ascetical practice (attakilamathānu yoga) is the life of detachment. In Indian society, there were other two extreme views of regarding the nature and reality called Eternalism (Sassata-vŒda) and Annihilationism (Uccheda-vŒda). The former, which was more popular, believed the soul goes forever through different bodies while the latter believed the soul will be destroyed completely when it dies. But both views commonly believed in the soul’s existence.


The Buddha rejected both extremes and provided a new point of view regarding the reality: the middle path. There are two levels of understanding of this new vision: one in practical level, adapting the middle path (MajjhimŒ-pa ipada) and the other in theoretical level, explaining the middle path (MajjhimŒ-desana). We are going to see the latter one which is the Buddhist explanation of the middle path. If you read the Buddha’s teachings carefully, you will find the basic assumption of his teachings which is the theory of anatta (no soul) and anabhissara (no God). According to Indian tradition, there were two kinds of souls: One is individual soul (jvŒtma) which is personalized souls and the other is universal and absolute soul (paramŒtma) which is not personalized. This belief developed as Atman and BrŒhman theory in Indian philosophy which insists that the unique atmans (individual souls) are created by paramŒtma. For the Buddha, this strong belief of soul (attmavŒda) could not ensure the existence of the soul.


In the western philosophy, there was a “theory of cause and effect” which was eventually used to prove the existence of God. Aristotle said that there must be the “uncaused cause” or “the first cause” if you logically trace back to the cause-effect line. This concept of the first cause developed the concept of the Creator who is not created by anything else, and this theory was adapted to the Christian defense of God’s existence by Thomas Aquinas.


The Buddhist way of thinking, however, is completely different. The middle way can explain the cause-effect reality without getting into any extremes. Things are neither from God nor from nowhere. Both extremes are wrong. Things are arising dependently, so called Paticca SamuppŒda (dependent co-arising). This term is unique Buddhist term because nobody used it before the Buddha. This understanding of reality as dependent co-arising led the Buddha to reject the theory of soul and God.


Actually we are arising every moment dependently: our body is the complex of arising and passing away of all dependent elements as in deeper level our psychological reality is always inter-dependent. Myself is nothing if we take away of all dependent relationships which condition myself. I am not a same person as I who was born in 50 years ago, but not a different person either. This unbroken relationship and gradual evolution of physical and mental existence does not indicate any independent soul in it. Who are we? Every moment of doing something is defining us as human being. Buddhist explanation of human being is in action such as hearing, seeing and even sleeping. You become you because of your behavior. According to Buddhism, we don’t have to hold the concept of soul in order to explain the meaning of human being. As long as someone explains the soul as inter-dependent reality, Buddhism will not have any problem with it, but there is no independent substance as the two extremes of Indian philosophy insisted.


As each individual is inter-dependent, entire universe are so much inter-dependent. Everything is co-arising of cause and effect. This theory of mutual cause and condition has no problem of that the western theory of cause and effect has: If we think of absolute starting and ending point of cause and effect, what is before the first point and after the last point? If we see the things as inter-dependent arising, we don’t have to suppose the Creator as the first cause as Aristotle did.



Lecture 3 (March 8, 2006)



The 12 Links of Dependent Co-Arising

(dvŒdassa-aºga-pa iccasamuppŒda)



       Last week we saw the fundamental insight of the Buddha into the reality in which human beings are also subjected to that natural law, called dependent co-arising.[1] The important question: “How did the Buddha put or applied his insight of dependent co-arising (Paticca SamuppŒda) to the other teachings? The main purpose of the Buddha’s leaving home was to bring liberation from the suffering. His main concern was on the question of how the suffering arises and ceases. The Buddha’s famous answer to the 10 unexplained metaphysical questions raised by MŒlunkyaputta shows his intention clearly: “MŒlunkyaputta, have I not explained them? Because it is not useful, it is not fundamentally connected with the spiritual holy life… I have explained dukkha, the arising of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, and the way leading to the cessation of dukkha… because it is useful, is fundamentally connected with the spiritual holy life, is conducive to aversion, detachment, cessation, tranquility, deep penetration, full realization, NirvŒöa.”[2]


       When the Buddha applied Paticca SamuppŒda to this question of dukkha, he explained it as the 12 links (dvŒdassa-aºga-pa iccasamuppŒda): 


1.      avijja (ignorance): not only the lack of simple knowledge, but the lack knowledge       

                 of the four noble truths.

2.      saºkhŒra (construction): mental and physical volition. We create something as   

result of our saºkhŒra. We can make the person as our friend or

enemy according to our conception.

3.      viññŒna (consciousness): to be aware, to know things.

4.      nŒmarèpa (psycho-physical existence): full humanity. We cannot divide the total          

human being into mind and matter.

5.      salŒyatana (six sensory bases): with them we connect to outside world.

6.      phass (contact): Our perception is arising by the contact of sense organs, objects

  and related consciousness.

7.      vedanŒ(feeling)

8.      taöhŒ (thirst)

9.      upŒdŒna (grasp): clinging to

10.  bhava (becoming): every moments we are becoming something or somebody.

11.  jŒti (birth)

12.  jarŒ-marana (decay and death)


This theory understood in two different manners: traditionally interpreted as the process of the past, present and future life in the Saµsara world; But it can also be understood by the process happening here and now in this very life. Aren’t we a constant changing both in body and mind from the born to death? As the Greek philosopher Herakleitos said, when dipping our feet into the river, we cannot feel the same water again. According to him, the reason of it is because the river is continuously flowing without ceasing. But the Buddha would say differently, that is because we are changing without ceasing. Another western philosopher who thought similar to the Buddha was Albert Camus. He compared the human life with the destiny of the actor in the myth of Sisyphus: we keep doing same things without ceasing. But the solution of the suffering is different. Camus regards that the endless act itself is the meaning of our life while the Buddha found the way going out of the circle.


In a large scale of the Saµsara world, the moments we are present are all related each other. The dependant co-arising (paticcasamuppŒda) of 12 stages is the process of right now, here, in this moment. In our daily experience the process is taking place together in a single incident. The process does not match to time flowing. It is just a logical analysis. As long as we are living in this world, we must contact outside world through our sense organs and the process arising continually. The moments of Jana experience which break down the boundary of in and outside are temporally. We cannot live in that experience continually. Then we must be able to face the world and be comfortable with it. By just cutting off the outside world, you cannot reach the goal.


In order to change the process, we need to understand it properly. How does this process take place? How can we be free from it? The turning point is taöhŒ. Even the Buddha and Arahants are still under the natural process of vedanŒ, but they have no more taöhŒ. Then they have no more clinging within. When we ordinary people feel something, we are reacting on it to like or dislike. The arahants, however, do not react. They just see as feelings and things are. They do not follow up with feelings arisen. But this reverse of the order of the process is not easy. We know that even when we are sleeping, we are reacting to the external world. The point, therefore, is not seeing or not-seeing the object, but seeing without attaching to it.



Lecture 4 (March 15, 2006)



       We have seen the fundamental teaching of the Buddha, paticcasamuppŒda, and its application to the problem of suffering. Even though it is realized by the Buddha in a unique form, the idea of paticcasamuppŒda itself is not only limited to Buddhism. It is more universal. Some parts of the insight can be found in other philosophies and religious thoughts. Human being is also part of the framework of paticcasamuppŒda even though he can change the order of the process by mental development. The difficulty of the Buddha’s teaching is not on the intellectual or conceptual level, but on the deeper level of experience, real understanding, and internalization. As we saw already, the Buddha explained the rising of suffering and its cessation without reference to any agent like soul or God. There has been a question of selfishness on the Buddha’s teaching due to his purpose looked to pay attention too much to one’s own liberation. This question was arisen even among the Mahayana Buddhists. This is, however, a typical misunderstanding on Dhamma. The whole point of view of the teachings of the Buddha is selfless. How can we reach the selfless and detached freedom of mind with selfish motivation? Here again we recognize that the importance of paticcasamuppŒda which is the fundamental insight of the Buddha. We can apply it to everything else. We are going to see a new subject in that Buddhist point of view.



























Buddhist Concept of Human Being and Reality


      When I say “reality,” it means “what there is,” or “everything that is perceived (perceivable)” such as things we see, hear, smell…so on. Human beings are also in this reality. Then why the human being becomes a matter? Buddhism looks all things as saµsara. Everything is impermanent (anicca), non-substance (anatta) and suffering (dukkha). We human beings share that same reality. While all beings share the materialistic factors, human beings also share communality with other living beings. Traditionally Buddhists have thought that human being is in the middle world between gods and animals. Other beings have to go through this world of human being, they cannot jump over it. By this understanding of the world and human being, there were so many questions about karma and rebirth theory that the Buddha got tired of answering those questions. We will examine the karma theory later. Here we just want to note that there is lots of communality which human beings share with other beings in the reality.


       Then what makes human being different from other beings? Two things: Entire Potentiality and Creativity. Human beings can create a better or worse world with endless potentiality while other animals can never develop their potentiality. In this sense of potential creativity human being can play the important role but at the same time he ought to be humbled as a part of the same reality as other beings.


       What the human being concretely means in Buddhism is the five aggregates (pañcakkhandha): rèpa (material form), vedanŒ (feeling, sensation), saññŒ (perception), saºkhŒra (mental and physical construction), and viññŒna (consciousness). Each one of the five aggregates is one kind of action or activity. This is crucially important for Buddhism: Human being is not defined by any substance but by the five actions. It is not a group of different things. It is just five factors which are interdependently connected. We cannot experience each action separately; they arise at once. We can distinct the five only for analysis. Again we can see the importance of dependant co-arising (paticcasamuppŒda).



Lecture 5 (March 22, 2006)



       The term rèpa comes from verb rèppati, vedanŒ from vediyati, saññŒ from sañjŒnŒti, saºkhŒra from saºkharoti, and viññŒna from vijŒnŒti. The significance of those terms is that the five aggregates are not considered as phenomena but as acting; act of continuing change (rèpa), act of feeling (vedanŒ), act of perceiving (saññŒ), act of constructing (saºkhŒra), and act of knowing (viññŒna); nŒma-rèpa is singular term which indicates that human body and mind are inseparable reality. Again, there is constant acting, not the person as substantial thing. Similar to Gilbert Ryle, a behaviorist, Buddhism considers the person as combination of actions: you cannot pinpoint such substance as Œtman within your body.


On one hand, the combination of each individual is unique, different from others, but on the other hand each one shares many similarities. Therefore, definition of person as fluid actions does not mean there is nothing. All the conditions such as parents, environment and education make individuals different and similar. The Buddha said, “no one is ought to be born as Brahmin (high person) or Vasala (low person).” One becomes high or low person according to one’s action and behavior. In so long as you are doing noble things, you become a noble person. In an ordinary level, there is no person 100% bad or good: everybody is changing sometimes good and other times bad; we are changing behavior. In short, there is no permanent personality.


Thus the Pañcakkhandha analysis of human being gives a new perspective to the understanding of human being: it gives a causal understanding of human being. It does not deny the existence of individuals in day to day life; but it also see that individuals are passing away. When you see things in a deeper level, you should face their reality of impermanence. The significance of this concept of ultimate reality is that it helps us to detach from selfishness.


       When we think of the term citta (mind) and cetasika (constituents of mind), they are identical reality: birth and cessation of citta and cetasika (anger, jealousy, faith, and mindfulness, etc.) are simultaneous and identical. How can we recognize “anger” without “mind” to be angry? Both are actually not two categories as each individual and pañcakkhanda is not two. There is no so called “per se.” In this way, Buddhism explains the whole reality as 12 Œyatanas and 18 dhŒtas as follows:


             12 Œyatanas: 6 sensory faculties: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind; 6 objects of those faculties: visible forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible things, and concepts. Feeling, perceiving and reacting are arising from the contact of those 6 faculties and 6 objects. 18 dhŒtas: 6 kinds of consciousness associated with 12 Œyatanas: eye-forms-consciousness; ear-sounds-consciousness; nose-smells-consciousness; tongue-tastes-consciousness; body-tangible things-consciousness; mind-concepts-consciousness.


       All these understanding of human being is leading to the fundamental Buddhist theory of anatta. It goes beyond two extremes of eternalism (sassata-vada) and annihilationism (uccheda-vada). It is a realistic view of human being: individual person is neither eternal nor nihilistic being; personality or individuals are there but they are considered as continuing flux. This interpretation has meaning. This is a philosophical foundation of how to Buddhist see the reality of human being (personality). On this foundation we will see the concrete doctrine of the four noble truths next week.



















Lecture 6 (March 29, 2006)



Four Noble Truths



I explained the PaticcasamuppŒda (dependent origination) as the philosophical foundation of Buddhism and it is applicable to all the Buddhist ideas. Although paticcasamuppŒda is the basic philosophical insight in Buddhism, the Buddhist analysis of human reality (the Buddha’s message) is the four noble truths.


Any developed religion tries to have solution of the problems of existence of human being: it is a universal tendency. While other religions in general give the solution beyond the reality of human existence, the solution of Buddhism (four noble truths) is here in this human reality: “within this fathom long body.” This is what Buddhism different from other religions.


Dhamma-Cakka-Pavattana Sutta: we already discussed the political connotation of the term cakka, but here this is “Dhamma Cakka,” not normal cakka.


1.      dukkha ariya sacca  (in brief: dukkha)

2.      dukkha samudaya ariya sacca  (in brief: samudaya)

3.      dukkha nirodha ariya sacca  (in brief: nirodha)

4.      dukkha nirodhagŒmani pa ipadŒ ariya sacca  (in brief: magga)



Why these things are called ariya cacca (noble truth)? The term ariya is kind of historical and anthropological concept which has racial connotation: the Ariyan people are higher than others by birth. But the Buddha uses the same term by changing the meaning: he gives a spiritual connotation to it: aryians are there but not as a higher class by birth but as a spiritual person who attained higher level of mental stage.


Again, why noble truths (ariya sacca)? It is the noble truths because of the noble people (because it belongs to the noble people); it is the noble truths because it makes noble people (instrumental); it is the noble truth because they themselves are noble, grateful and precious (adjective)[3].


The prince Siddhartha knew what was suffering but he did not know the solution. His unique contribution was that he eventually found that solution. Interesting thing is that the sequence of four truths is “effect (the suffering)-cause (the origin of suffering); effect (the cessation of suffering)-cause (the way of cessation)”; “Not cause and effect, but effect and cause.” It has meaning that the Buddha begins with what he sees (experience).






1. Dukkha (Suffering)


       We now translate the term dukkha as suffering, even though it has wider meaning such as pain, unsatisfactory, so on. There are four different aspects of dukkha (suffering):


(1)   dukkha-dukkha: physical, ordinary meaning of suffering (sorrowful feeling, pain)

(2)   viparinŒma-dukkha: suffering caused by change

(3)   saµkhŒra-dukkha: suffering associated with saµkhŒra (impermanence, change)

(4)   khandha-dukkha: suffering associated with pañcakhandha (pañca-upŒdŒna-khandha)



This classification indicates that the term dukkha has various meanings. In the Sutta the Buddha says 8 different forms of dukkha:


(1)   jati (birth)

(2)   jara (old-age)

(3)   vyŒdhi (illness)

(4)   marana (death)

(5)   appiyehi sampayoga (to be associated with unpleasant)

(6)   piyehi vippayoga (to be parted from the loved)

(7)   yampiccham na labhati (not to get what one wishes)

(8)   pañcupŒdŒnakkhandha (associated with the aspects of grasping)


There are also the different ways of suffering; different manifestations or consequences of suffering:


(1)   soka (grief)

(2)   parideva (lamentation)

(3)   dukkha (physical suffering)

(4)   domanassa (mental suffering)

(5)   upŒyŒsa (frustration)


In this account of suffering you don’t find any definition of dukkha. The Buddha never defined the term but just gave the list of it. This has philosophical reason: if you define the term, it assumes that you can be going to the bottom of it and find point of something unique of it and say it is that, not anything else. This is very opposite concept against Buddhism.


Definition belongs to very much philosophical and grammatical tradition. When you define something as unique, you cannot point anything else. But sometimes you can define people arbitrarily. The Buddha did not say what the dukkha is, but just gave the various forms of experiencing dukkha in order to avoid danger of falling into only one meaning. Those terms in the list are basic human experiences and the last one (pañcupŒdŒnakkhandha) is the most important religious and philosophical experience.


Later the Buddhaghosa tried to define the meaning of the term in the manner of thus: jata is birth. It is suffering to be in the womb, suffering to be born in the process of birth, so on.[4] But here the term jati dukkha does not mean simply the birth itself suffering but it is the start of the process of suffering. In Buddhist tradition definition means kind of account or description: what is dukkha? The Buddha will say “It is dukkha, and that is dukkha.” There is no definitely universal concept. Now we come back to our discussion:


pañca-khandha: something universal of human being.

pañca-upŒdŒna-khandha: our own universe (existence) with craving (grasping).


The term upŒdŒna means “taking in (ŒdŒna) severely (upa).” Therefore pañca-upŒdŒna-khanda is characterized by intensive grasping: why suffering? Because of grasp (upŒdŒna). The pañca-khandha is my normal being (it does not create suffering); what makes us suffering is attachment (upŒdŒna) to the pañca-khandha; the craving of “My” being, “Mine” mind associated with pañcakhandha create suffering)[5].



Lecture 7 (April 5, 2006)



       The copy of AriyapariyesanŒ Sutta: a concrete way of looking at what suffering is; not only human birth but for all beings. Suggestion: read a whole sutta in Majjhima Nikaya.



2. Samudaya (The Origin of Suffering)


       Suffering as unsatisfactoriness: it is a human nature that is longing for something until one gets it; but when he/she holds it, the attraction of it goes away. When you lose some one or something very important for you, you feel that there is no meaning of life; but actually what is not meaningful is not the life but your attachment of being identified yourself with such empty objects. There is an interesting story in Majjhima Nikaya: the story of young man RatthapŒla who was an ordained bhikkhu came from very rich family; one day the king met him at the garden and asked him of why such beautiful young man became a bhikkhu, then RatthapŒla answered by the four reasons:


(1) uno loko atitto tanhŒdŒso (people in the world are not satisfied; slave to craving).


       The term taöhŒ came from the Sanskrit term “thrshna,” literally means “thirst.” In the Sutta the Buddha describes taöhŒ in three phases:


ponobhavika (causing rebirth): This term means “rebirth” in a more existential and saµsaric sense, but it can also mean “to be again” or “re-becoming” in a sense of day to day life experience; we are repeat something again and again.

nandi-rŒga sahagatŒ (associated with attachment): The literal meaning of nandi is “enjoying” and rŒga is “coloring.” So we can say the combine both as attachment.

tatra tatra abhinandinī (making one enjoying any situation one finds in): This term means that wherever, here and there, person is enjoying the situation.


       It is interesting to note that these three are actually kinds of energy for us to go forward; if we lose it, we cannot exist. If you don’t think suffering as sweet, you should suicide. (Think of the story of Japanese scholar who fell into the hole with a woman).  We are caught up in such a situation in this saµsara world. We ordinary people need taöhŒ in the sense of those three phases; taöhŒ is a driving force behind our life. The Buddha goes on to classify taöhŒ as threefold:


kŒma-taöhŒ: it is a thirst for pleasurable objects; broadly all sensual things but narrowly sexual senses. The attractive concepts or beautiful things themselves are no problem; but when we attach to them as “mine,” this thirst cause a problem. We can see beautiful objects as they are without attaching to them.

Bhava-taöhŒ: craving to be; craving for continuing existence. Buddhism believes that there are different levels of various existences (bhavas): kŒma-bhava: gross level of existence; you are grown as human being or animal or whatever as the kŒma-bhava. rèpa-bhava: you are grown in the fine material form. We all belong to this existence. arèpa-bhava: you are grown in the non-material form. After all, we like to be existent; we have desire for existence.[6] But the Buddha says that he will never praise existence.

Vibhava-taöhŒ: it is a taöhŒ coming in the form of negation of existence; desire for non-existence; this could be a destructive desire; someone who suicide or kill others are overwhelmed by this taöhŒ; it may be similar to Thanatos in Freudianism.



Lecture 8 (April 26, 2006)



3. Nirodha (The Cessation of Suffering)



         The third noble truth is described in the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta as follows:


tassŒyeva taöhŒya asesa-virŒga-nirodho  

cŒgo pa inissaggo mutti anŒlayo

(the complete fading away and cessation of that very thirst; giving it up, renouncing it, emancipating oneself from it, detaching oneself from it).


Here, we can observe that the particular term of “nibbŒna” is not used, even though this description means it. It just emphasizes that the cessation of suffering is the cessation of the cause of the suffering, that is “craving (taöhŒ).” By describing it in this way, you can avoid the complicated speculations about nibbŒna, so called as “amata (am¨ta in Sk): deathlessness or immortality. This term nibbŒna has several meanings:


ni + vŒna (absence of craving).

ni +  vr (blow off) : bowing off of fires (of craving).


This literal meaning of nibbŒna indicates that arahants extinguished taöha like extinguishing the lamp. It also reminds us of the famous discourse of “aditta-pariyŒya-sutta” in SaµyuttanikŒya. It says that human beings are burning with greed (lobha), hatred (dosa) and ignorance (moha); their root is my own taöha. Then nibbŒna is a state of extinguishing that burning fire of rŒga, anger and delusion. In order to reach this stage, one does not need to wait until death; it can be done in this very life. The Buddha realized nibbŒna at 35 years old. The nirbanic experience is not an experience after death.


The terms like ajara (non-decay) and amara (non-death) means that the arahants are totally free from the concept of death in their mind; so no more “fear of death.” They are not subject to decay or death. They do not construct or do not will continuity and becoming or annihilation, they do not cling to anything in the world. This experience of the arahants or of the Buddha is very much current experience, not of another world or heaven. It is different from the materialistic clinging to the worldly pleasure and destructive anxious of death. As the arahants do not cling, they are not anxious; as they are not anxious, they are completely calmed within; and they know that “finished is birth, lived is pure life.”[7] When there is no more craving (thaöhŒ), then there is no more grasping (upŒdŒna); no more upŒdŒna, then no more birth (jŒti); no more decay and death (jarŒ-marana). This indicates the fundamental truth of Buddhism: there is no more such an absolute substance as Ātman (being, person) within or without.


Understanding this truth rationally is not so difficult; but it is not easy to accept the consequences of it. The popular question of what happening to the Buddha or arahants after their parinibbŒna reflects a kind of fear of death that non-arahants have. No arahants have raised such question; they never afraid or worry about after death. Such questions are always arisen within the non-arahants whose minds are still defiled by craving to everlasting existence (bhava-taöhŒ). Buddhism never denies the existence of heaven, but never accepts it as the ultimate reality. What is truth, according to Buddhism, is the truth of impermanent (anicca) and of non-self (anatta). Again, it is not so difficult to understand conceptually, but really accepting it and following the paths which lead us to nibbŒna is not easy. There are always few people who really do it.    



Lecture 9 (May 3, 2006)



       If you see nibbāna as an ultimate religious goal, it is very easy to be misunderstood as a transcendental stage. While many other world religions use transcendental ideas in order to explain the ultimate religious goal, Buddhism does not have such thoughts. Even though there are terms like lokiya (belong to this world) and lokuttara (beyond to this world) in the later Pāli canon, the word lokuttara is not used as a transcendental or metaphysical sense; it is used as an ethical meaning of eradicating all defilements, that is the end of human suffering. The fact that transcendence of the world in the Buddhist sense is moral in nature is shown by the following statement of the Buddha:


Monks, within this fathom-long body with perception and mind, I declare the world, origin of the word, cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world.[8]


What is meant by ‘world’ here is the unsatisfactoriness of the human existence (dukkha). The cessation of dukkha, therefore, must be done within the human being, not beyond it. One has to reach the end of this ‘world’ in order to escape from suffering. Addressing a celestial being who confessed that he engaged in a futile pursuit of attempting to reach the end of the world (universe), the Buddha says the following:


gammanena na pattabbo / lokassanto kudācanaµ

na ca appatvā lokantaµ / dukkhā atthi pamocanaµ


One cannot reach the end of the world by walking.

Nevertheless, one cannot escape from suffering without reaching the end of the world.[9]


       Here the world in the first sentence is the physical universe whereas in the second it is the unsatisfactory nature of the human existence. Metaphysical thoughts always indicate something beyond the physical world, but the Buddhist thought is far different from it. The Buddha advocated not the metaphysical speculation, but the concrete ethical practice to be liberated from the world of suffering.[10]


       Even in the Buddhist tradition, however, the metaphysical questions have often been raised by the scholars: “What is nibbāna?” or “Does nirvāna really exist?” As we know, the great Pāli commentator Buddhaghosa had long discussion to prove the existence of nibbāna. But what does it mean by that existence (bhāva) or non-existence (abhāva) of nibbāna? If nibbāna does not exist, what is your striving for? If nibbāna does exist where is it? Is it somewhere else there? Unlike the later Buddhist scholars such as Buddhaghosa or Nagarjuna, in the early Pāli texts, the Buddha did not answer to this kind of questions. While this kind of questions would be led to the two extremes (eternalism or annihilationism), the middle path which the Buddha took was a new understanding and practice for the religious goal.


       When we talk about two kinds of nibbāna (saupādisesa-nibbāna and anupādisesa-nibbāna), people often misunderstand as the second one indicates that Arahants still exist after death. This is due to popular wish of being forever; they understand it as “everlasting nibbāna.” Then it becomes like faith of “eternal life” in other world religions. But the Buddha’s answer is not in that sense: as long as you are born, you cannot avoid your death; there is no deathless for the one who have birth. Therefore, the Buddha’s answer of “immortality” is different from the popular belief: it is the full extinction of defilements in this world (saupādisesa-nibbāna) and the full extinction of the five aggregates after death (anupādisesa-nibbāna); there is no more remaining existence for Arahants. This is kind of explanation may scare the ordinary people who are very much attached to their life. If they really know the meaning of nibbāna, they would not dare to say “sādhu” to it.


       As we mentioned before, no arahants raised such question of nibbāna: they do not like to talk about it in a metaphysical sense; they just share their nibbānic experience and invite people to practice the Dhamma if they want to experience the same stage. The most important thing is the ethical practice of eradicating the root of our suffering; don’t worry about the things that will happen after death. However, the ordinary people may not be so interested in this ultimate goal that they have developed diverse Buddhist cultural ceremonies and practices in order to attain ‘everlasting nibbāna.’[11] The Buddha did not discourage those practices as long as they help people to live in peace without not so much greed, hatred, and violence. But he invites one, who is really interested in the final goal, into a serious practice of Dhamma. If you want to commit yourself into a real practice of Dhamma, you must be sure that you are capable of dealing with this existential matter seriously.



Lecture 10 (May 10, 2006)



4. Magga (Path leading to the cessation of suffering)



       Looking at the fourth noble truth, we can see the basic ethical paths taught by the Buddha: the eightfold path through which one can achieve the cessation of suffering. When we read the Buddhist literature, we can get perplexed by the various presentations of the path: 37 bodhipakkhiya dhamma, 4 foundations of mindfulness, etc. How do we connect all these things together? How can we make sense of the various types of presentations? What is the exact of the path? Seemingly certain aspects emphasized more than others: if you look at Satipa  hāna Sutta (DN, MN), the awareness of mindfulness, which is samā-sati in the eightfold path, is expounded in huge portions.


         The term magga (path; procedure; practice) can be said in detail manner as the noble truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkha-nirodhagāminī-pa ipadā-ariyasacca) or as the noble eightfold path (ariya-a  hangika-magga). The same path is described by the Buddha as the middle path (majjhimā-pa ipadā) in the Dhamma-cakka-pavattana Sutta. It describes the two extremes to be avoided: one is the engagement in sensual pleasure (kāma-sukhallikānuyoga) which is low (hīno), vulgar (gammo), ordinary or self-centered (pothujjanīko), ignoble (anariyo), and leading to harmfulness (anatthasaµhito). The other one is the engagement in self torturing (atta-kilamathānuyoga) which is painful (dukkho), ignoble (anariyo), and harmful (anatthasaµhito).[12]


       The Buddha’s life shows that he went through these two extremes: the luxurious sensual experience at the palace and the extreme self torturing experience during the six years of renounced life. The later experience is mentioned in detail by the Buddha in Bhayabherava Sutta (MN).[13]


         What is the middle path (Majjhimā pa ipadā)? The term gives us a feeling of that it would be a life of compromise between two extremes; some kind of moderate life. But the middle path announced by the Buddha is not a simply moderate life although the path includes it. The eightfold path is not a compromise between tow extremes; it is a new distinctive ethical path which rejects both extremes: it also rejects the philosophical extremes of eternalism and annihilationism.[14] 


       It was not easy task for the Buddha to convince the five bhikkhus who kept thinking that the Buddha was spoiled by giving up atta-kilamathānuyoga. They changed their thought, however, when the Buddha asked the following question: “Have I said these things before?” It indicates that his teachings were totally new for them. Furthermore the Buddha explained them by making his own personal experience. We know the power of sharing one’s own experience. In Nagara Sutta or Porana añjasa Sutta (SN), the Buddha makes the famous discourse of ancient path and city. When he talks about the discovery of abandoned path and ancient city, he talks about his own experience. What is different from the story is that the Buddha did not just bump into the path: in real life he had to take a long time in search for the noble eightfold path. Ultimately the Buddha discovered an everlasting truth: suffering and the way leading to its cessation.


       The significance of the middle path is that once the Buddha discovered the truth, anyone can discover it too, by following the same path. Anyone who follows the middle path can have the same experience as the Buddha has. The Buddha knew that his audiences were different each other in their particular personality and capacity to understand his teachings. So he presented the path in various ways according to the people who listened to him. If we read discourses carefully, however, we can find the same paths which are expressed in diverse forms. The noble eightfold path is the most general summary of what the Buddha taught in detailed various discourses to the different people. This path was life long process for many people. Any particular discourse must be considered with its concrete context.







Lecture 11 (May 17, 2006)



       Although there are some basic philosophical problems that we have to consider regarding the eightfold path, here we just refresh our knowledge of the path. As we all know, the each eightfold path begins with the term sammā which means ‘right,’ or ‘correct’ and it is opposite to the term micchā which means ‘false,’ or ‘wrong.’ We can make the eightfold wrong path by putting the prefix miccā to each word. The meaning of each eightfold path is as follows:


(1)   Sammā di  hi (right view): it is the knowledge or the correct understanding of the four noble truths. It is interesting to note that this very first part of eightfold path includes the all four noble truths. This remarks that we cannot separate a part of four noble truths or of eightfold path from the other parts of them. It reminds us of the question we raised from the beginning of this chapter: how can we reconcile all different paths which the Buddha taught in different ways? Now we can say that if we look carefully, we can reconcile of all different teachings of the Buddha which are presented to various people in different ways according to their capacity to understand. Each part is not a separated teaching from the others. All are related to each other.[15]

(2)   Sammā saºkappa (right thought): it is the concept or thought of peacefulness, of non-harm, and of the absence of aggression.[16]

(3)   Sammā vāca (right words): it is abstention from telling lies, harsh words, backbiting gossips, and meaningless talks.

(4)   Sammā kammanta (right action): it is abstention from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct.

(5)   Sammā ājīva (right living): it is abstention from wrong livelihood. Even though it basically refers to the monastic life (abstention from presenting something you don’t have in order to get them from people, etc.), it is also mentioned the list of false livelihood for the lay: selling poison, liquor, meat, animals, human beings, weapons, etc. Not only trading but other kinds of works in the wrong manner can be false livelihood. It is not necessarily what you do but how you do.

(6)   Sammā vāyāma (right effort): it is the try to give up bad things which you have already generated; try not to generate bad things which you don’t have yet; try to develop good things which you already have; try to produce good things which you don’t have yet and incorporate them into good things you already have.

(7)   Sammā sati (right mindfulness): it is to be diligently aware of, mindful on the body (kāya), feelings (vedanā), mind (citta), and mental phenomena (dhamma).

(8)   Sammā samādhi (right concentration): it is concentration or absorption of mind which leads to the four stages of dhyānas.


Buddhist approach to the religiosity is the holistic approach.[17] This is very clear when we think of these eightfold noble truth related to the three trainings or three disciplines (tisso sikkhŒ). You cannot be a samādhi man without being sīla or pa––ā man; vice versa. Within the satipa  hāna practice, you cover entire paths already.


We usually say that the eightfold path divided into threefold discipline; but strictly speaking, the eightfold path is included within the threefold training. It is confirmed by the Buddha in CèÂavedalla Sutta (MN).[18]


The term pa––ā (wisdom) is wider than just sammā-di  hi and sammā-saºkappa. It has different levels and degrees: (1) it is the knowledge from ‘heard.’ At that time, person who heard a lot meant a learned person; (2) it is also the knowledge of the logic or investigation; (3) but the true wisdom (pa––ā) is not coming out of the logic or heard, but from our own meditation (bhāvanā: mental development).[19] Pa––ā comes from development of our mind. The term sīla means verbal or physical behavior of person.


When we see the order of eightfold path related to three disciplines, the following question arises: why do we start from pa––ā, not from the sīla? The whole idea is that you should begin with kind of understanding; but it is not the culmination of pa––ā which you can reach at the end. The eight paths are complementary structure; you cannot give up the former stage when you practice the next step; you are carrying all together in each step; you start with some kind of pa––ā and culminate into the pa––ā again. It is the reason why called Arahants who culminate in the last stage have sammā-–āöa and sammā-vimutti. While the person who undergoes training of eightfold path is called sekha, the person who reaches the perfection in all ten stages is called arahā or asekha.


The important note: Sīla or the five precepts (pa–ca sīla) is not just passive practice of the abstention from bad things (virati), but also the positive practice of good things (samādāna): (1)öātipātā means the abstention from killing as well as set aside weapons and wish well for all living beings. (2)Adinnādānā is not only the abstention from stealing but also the practice of almsgiving (dāna). (3)Kāmesu micchācārā is the abstention from sexual misconduct and the practice of moral sexual life. (4)Mèsāvādā is the practice of telling not the lie but the truth. (5)Surā-meraya-majja-pamāda  hānā is the abstention from drinking intoxicants. For this fifth precept, there is no exact opposite practice given in the early texts.






Lecture 12 (May 24, 2006)



       We have discussed that the person who completed the eightfold path (a  haºga samannāgato maggo) called Arahant has 10 aspects (dasaºga samannŒgato arahā). These last two stages of knowledge are called sammā –āöa (right knowledge) and sammā vimutti (right freedom).[20] Then the question arises: “why the eightfold path begins with sammā-di  hi and sammā-saµkapa which is a pa––ā category?” The combination of starting with pa––ā and goes to the sīla and samādhi is not well matched with a common combination of Tisso Sikkhā which starts with sīla and goes to the samādhi and pa––ā.


       This combination starting with pa––ā in the eightfold path also seems to be against the general concept of ‘gradual’ in the texts: anupubba sikkhā (gradual discipline), anupubba kiriyā (gradual action or functioning), and anupubba pa ipadā (gradual practice). In the normal training of some professions when they reach one higher step, they usually ignore the former step, regarding the beginning step is no longer applicable. But this is not that kind of business. The concept of anupubba sikkhā never gives those kinds of hint.[21] The disciples do not have any single stage that the other former virtues are not applicable. On the other hand, in esoteric types of religions, sometimes even in the later Buddhist tradition itself such as VajrayŒna, the concept of ‘In and Out’ is accepted. They make certain people in while others out; certain things or practices are applicable to certain people while others are not applicable. The early Buddhism never came to those kinds of conception. Each part of eightfold path is applicable to everyone from the beginner to Arahant.


       Now we come back to our main question of why the eightfold path starts with sammādi  hi and sammāsaµkappa. Sammādi  hia is a pa––ā of the four noble truths, but it is not yet a comprehensive knowledge of the noble truths. It is a stage of knowing or understanding the problems and part of the solutions which can embark to enter the path. For example, unlike the born in Buddhist who hears and knows the noble truths from the infant age, the person from the other religions has to make a crucial decision in order to enter the path. This decision has a lot of implication for him personally and socially; he has to give up his former religion. At the first stage he would be attracted by the world view of the Buddha which makes sense to him. He needs a conviction that the Buddha is saying the truth. The four noble truths were kind of world view given by the Buddha.[22] Sammādi  hi, therefore, is the basic knowledge of the four noble truths which makes person to follow the path.


The first two paths are included in pa––ā but it is not exhausted; there are much more in pa––ā than these two. Other wise it is very difficult to explain why we should begin with pa––ā. These two are kinds of pa––ā which is an initial understanding of the four noble truths as the starting point of the path, then we subsequently come back to it at the and of the course with the pa––ā of comprehensive understanding of the four noble truths.


In actual practice, in the discourses this whole eightfold part is regarded as mutual and complementary process. Although it is also mentioned in the discourses that a gradual discipline (anupubba sikkhŒ) starts from the sīla to samŒdhi and to pa––a, it should not be understand as a step by step process. The mutuality always happens in practice. For example, when we practice sīla, it is ultimately related to the realization of nibbana; we should do sīla in the perspective of entire path, that is, in the nirvanic context. SamŒdhi and pa––Œ is the same thing. But, unfortunately, many Buddhists observe the precepts without this holistic view. They observe the five precepts as a moral practice and that’s it; it has no serious affect to reach our goal. Sīla, however, cannot be the isolated from the whole path; it is the essential part of it; all three are helping each other mutually.[23]


       In the MahŒcattŒrīsaka Sutta (MN), the Buddha raised the question of what is the noble right concentration (sammŒ-samŒdhi), and he answered that sammŒ-samŒdhi has to be supported by all other seven aspects of the eightfold path. If we see the picture in the traditional way of thinking (a gradual, step by step process), how can we understand this Buddha’s explanation? He clearly said that sammŒ-samŒdhi must be supported by others, that is, pa––Œ leads to sammŒ-samŒdhi. The Buddha says, “sammŒ-di  hi comes very first; rithgt view (sammŒ-di  hi) is to be right view (sammŒ-di  hi) and wrong view (micchŒ-di  hi) is to be wrong view (micchaŒ-di  hi).” When we read deeper into the discourses of the Buddha, we can recognize that our general understanding of eightfold path as step-forward practice is too simplistic. Here again we should remind of the fact that the eightfold path is a general form of introduction for the paths which the Buddha taught in various ways to different people.


       Another misunderstanding we often take is that we regard any presentation in the Sutta as ‘the’ teaching of the Buddha. So they become absolute teaching. No, it is not true. The Buddha presented his teachings for the particular persons in a particular situation. You should think that how this teaching or that teaching can be applicable to me in my own situation. The same things are always happening in the meditation courses: the meditation master gives a general guide for the meditators; then he also gives particular explanations for each meditator in the individual counseling. So the Buddha gave the general teachings and also explain them in a particular situation; eightfold path was given as a general picture of diverse paths to nibbnŒna; and it is explained by the Buddha in diverse discourses differently; if you read them carefully, you can find that each eight part is mutual and complementary process leading to nibbŒna; it is not simply the step-forward process as we usually think.


       In the Rathavinīta Sutta (MN), the concept of seven purifications is mentioned through the form of question and answer between Ven. Puööa MantŒöiputta and Ven. SŒriputta: observing the purification of virtue leads to purification of mind; purification of mind leads to purification of view, so on.  The point of dialogue is that all seven purifications are ultimately leading to nibbŒna (extinguishment of all defilements) within the person. Then the simile of the king who reaches the destination by seven different horses which he took turn on the way; the king arrived at the final place by all the seven horses, not by only one. Here the point is that the collective concept of paths must be given. The path is not accumulated things; we cannot leave certain things out; all are the paths which lead us to the final goal, the cessation of suffering. Thus it is not easy to understand the path properly; it is more complex than we usually think.



5. Conclusion


       The central concept of the four noble truths is dukkha (suffering). Although there have been wondering and so many questions from the western thinkers about this, it is suffering that Buddhism take as a central concept; in a sense there is only one truth, it is dukkha. Buddhism shows the reality and presents the way coming out of it. It is not purposed to make people wondering in that concept. It just points out the truth. Dukkha is not merely day to day physical experience; it is a deep down psychological experience; even in the most affluent society people have suffering.


       The ultimate solution given by the Buddha is that one has to calm down personally and live in the present moment; don’t be bothered by the past and future. This is not an ordinary people’s experience. If you practice path that the Buddha presented, you can also have the same experience. This is universal and timeless teaching; it is applicable to the each situation because the suffering caused by taöha is everywhere, all the time.






























Lecture 13 (June 1, 2006)


Mind in Buddhism



       This is very interesting subject but in a way is not easy topic to deal with because it is very sensitive issue in the Buddhist philosophy. If Buddhism does not believe in the permanent soul, how would Buddhism discuss on the issue of so called the continuity of individual mind? On the one aspect of mind, we have to discuss about individual continuity, karma, nirvana, and saµsara which are connected to the issue of mind, but not to indicate the agent behind as Atman in Brahmanism. On the other hand, we have to discuss about a soteriological aspect of mind which is related to the development of mind, given a very important stage in Buddhist meditation. Regarding this issue, therefore, we need to look at the several points of view.


       In the Buddhist literature, we can come across three main key terms that refer to mind: citta, mano, and vi––Œöa. In the discourses the Buddha sometimes talks about these three things together referring to one same process of mind. Whatever called citta or mano or vi––Œna arises, all three are arising as one procedure. On the other hand, when we read the texts carefully, sometimes citta refers to one particular aspect of mind, and mano or vi––Œna also refers to another particular aspect of mind. Therefore, all three are interconnected as one procedure of mind, but also they refer to the various aspects of psychological process of mind.


       Before I am going to examine of the specific senses of these tree terms, I would like to give some general idea of Buddhism about mind. When we look at the Buddhist denial of Atman, it is interesting to note that at the time of the Buddha there were another group of philosophers who denied the existence of soul. They were the materialists. So by denying the existence of soul, both Buddhism and materialistic philosophers looked like share the same background. But, apart from that, there was no connection at all between Buddhism and materialistic philosophy. The way of rejecting the existence of soul was totally different; their reason and purpose of rejecting soul were different; ethically and morally two systems were completely different.


       One of the today’s main stream branches of modern psychology is called Behaviorism. The Behaviorism is a view that actually there is no mind per se, but only particular behaviors. In other words, there is no anger but angry behavior, no jealousy but jealous behavior, so on. In the same manner, they would say that there is no particular good and bad mind as such, but particular behaviors. This is basically scientific view because according to the scientific view, we can examine only what we can observe objectively, what we can share with others. In order to make psychology a science, scientist would say that you cannot observe mind but you can observe behaving in certain manner. This view would check the mental aspect in terms of physical aspect such as hormone and blood circulation when you get mad. Therefore, the Behaviorism is very much close to the materialistic type of philosophy during the time of the Buddha.


       In regarding the philosophy of mind, it should be recommended to read a book, the Concept of Mind, written by the Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle. In the very first chapter of the book, Gilbert comes up with a very interesting idea of ‘the ghost in the machine.’ This is how he describes the concept of soul which has been widely accepted in the Western tradition. This metaphor comes from belief that when the some European people saw automobile vehicle first time, they thought that there must be a horse in order to move the vehicle, but unfortunately there was no horse so that people conceptualized it as the ghost in the machine. By this metaphor, Gilbert points out that how people conceptualize the soul which motivates and mobilizes the body; you cannot see it but you must believe it. So it is just like ‘the ghost in the machine.’ This kind of understanding of soul is very much similar to Atman in the Indian context. The Brahmanic and Upanisadic philosophers believe the existence of soul and body in that way. When we look at the Western philosophy, as well known Cartesian dualism, they believe the existence of two substances: mind and matter; and soul is connecting those two substances as well as connecting to God.


       Now, Buddhism would very much go along with this criticism of Gilbert Ryle. Buddhism denies the concept of the ghost in the machine. But then the difficulty arises when the modern Behaviorism and Buddhism try to explain what is happening. For example, usually we think that we cry because we feel pain and sorrow; but the modern Behaviorism would say, totally other way around, that we feel pain and sorrow because we cry. It starts with the physical aspects as causing so called psychological aspects. On the one hand, we cannot deny the fact that the behavior of the person is an important indicator for us to understand the person’s mind. But, on the other hand, what is wrong with this position is that if you believe that there is only behavior and nothing else, then you are talking in some kind of vacuum.


       On the contrary, Buddhism thinks that behind these behaviors, there is some kind of psychological force. In Dhammapada, the Buddha says that if one acts with a defiled mind (manasŒ ce padu  hena), suffering follows him; but if one acts with a pure mind (manasŒ ce pasannena), happiness follows him. So actions are preceded by psychological aspects. When we talk about the conception of karma (action), the intention or motive (cetana) is important. The Behaviorism also mentions of intention, but how they would articulate it is different from Buddhism. For Behaviorism, it is something physical aspect, but for Buddhism it is a psychological aspect. When one does perform the karma either physically, verbally, or mentally, he has having thought in his mind first. According to Buddhism, psychological aspect precedes actions. But the Behaviorists think totally opposite that even though psychological aspects are there, they are understood as physical states.


       What is going on here in those discussions is that if you take a scientific view, you should not carry on with your reason anything that cannot be observed by your senses. In the philosophical field, there was the logical positivism at the early twenty century. They would say that anything worthy to discuss is only about things that can be observed by our senses or verified by our sensory experience; anything go beyond it is non-sense and non-scientific.[24] But still many scientists would say that there are things cannot be observed or captured by scientific tools. They will not deny the existence of very important things beyond scientific sensory experience, such as human emotions which are captured by arts, literature, and poetry. Now the debate goes on. So for Behaviorism, psychological aspects are limited into human behaviors nothing goes beyond them. For Buddhist position, it should be distinguished very carefully that on the one hand, Buddhism denies the concept of existence of unchanging permanent soul (Atman); but on the other hand, it is very important for Buddhism how can it describe the human behaviors which is preceded by mind.


       Now we continue to examine the concept of three specific terms of mind: citta, mano, and vi––Œöa. If you look at the second one, mano has several usages in the texts. But one very basic and clear meaning of it is the sixth sensory faculty. In the discourses, the Buddha says thus:


Depending on the conditions of eye faculty (cakkhu), there arises the eye consciousness (cakkhuvi––Œöa); depending on the conditions of ear faculty (sota), there arises the ear consciousness (sotavi––Œöa); depending on the conditions of nose faculty (ghŒna), there arises the nose consciousness (ghŒnavi––Œöa); depending on the conditions of tongue faculty (jivŒ), there arises the tongue consciousness (jivŒvi––Œöa); depending on the conditions of body faculty (kŒya), there arises the body consciousness (kŒyavi––Œöa); depending on the conditions of mind faculty (mano), there arises the mind consciousness (manovi––Œöa).


As we saw before, the combination of the three (sensory faculty, sensuous object and sensuous consciousness) is called contact (phase), from that arises feelings (vedanŒ), then arises craving (taöha), so on. That is the Buddhist explanation of how suffering (dukkha) arises dependently. We will see it in detail later. Here the important point is that how mind (mano) functions as the sensory faculty: as forms are recognized by the eye consciousness through the eye faculty, the concepts (dhamma) are recognized by the mind consciousness through the mano faculty.


In the Brahmanic tradition, our eyes recognize the objects through the eye faculty, but the real recognition is done by Atman, an internal agent. Buddhism, however, carefully avoid the language of ‘agent’ or ‘person’ behind the process of recognition. Buddhism analyzes that the consciousness arises when the conditions are there. This is another example of how to use the paticcasamuppŒda to explain arising and ceasing of things. The main function of paticcasamuppŒda is to explain arising and ceasing of suffering. But here we can take it to explain how the sensory perception arises and ceases. The eye consciousness is the consciousness associated with the eye arising. The important thing is that the whole processes are taken place in a short moment all together. Therefore, vi––Œöa process is described as causally conditioned (paticcasamuppŒda).


According to Buddhism, there is no vi––Œöa away from those six types of vi––Œöa. In our daily experience, of course, the vi––Œöa is very complex; not only one consciousness but two or three or all together (seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, thinking together). But there is no such abstract existence of the pure vi––Œöa. There is no vi––Œöa per se! If you believe the existence of vi––Œöa away from those six things, you are thinking of vi––Œöa which has anything to hold on. Buddhism, however, never mentions the vi––Œöa per se. Vi––Œöa is always the vi––Œöa of something such as cakkhu vi––Œöa, sota vi––Œöa, ghŒna vi––Œöa, jivŒ vi––Œöa, kŒya vi––Œöa, and mano vi––Œöa. As a physical human being, we will never be away from the kŒya vi––Œöa.


In MahŒtaöhŒsankhaya Sutta (MN), there was Bhikkhu called SŒti, he thought that vi––Œöa goes through the round of rebirths without change (vi––Œöaµ sandhŒvati saµsarati ana––aµ). The Buddha was very upset when he heard this view of SŒti. The Buddha says, “How could you ever get this kind of view? I have always described vi––Œöa as causally condition (paticcasamuppŒdaµ vi––Œöaµ vuttaµ mayŒ).” There is no arising of vi––Œöa without conditions. Without eye and forms, there would be no eye consciousness, without ear and sounds, there would be no ear consciousness, so on. It denies the belief that there is something behind, but on the other hand, it does not deny that there is psychological functioning within human being. In order to make it very clear, we can say what Buddhism denies is the permanent vi––Œöa within us; but on the other hand, it recognizes that vi––Œöa arises whenever we have conditions.



Lecture 14 (June 7, 2006)



       As we saw, the Buddha rejected the idea of SŒti who insisted that the vi––Œöa goes around unchanged. For the Buddha, vi––Œöa is there but it is also dependently arisen; every moment vi––Œöa arises and ceases. Then the Buddha says how people can take vi––Œöa to be the soul; they should rather to take body to be the soul because it can be seen as a continuing existence.


       In our ordinary experience, however, we don’t see vi––Œöa arising and ceasing. We experience it as an ongoing process. It is difficult understand what the Buddha said about vi––Œöa. We may use the simile of movie. The process of each individual picture can be seen as a continuing motion when it is appeared one after another in high speed. In appearance it moves but in actual fact there is no moving motion; what exist are only individual pictures. Similarly there is the vi––Œöa number one arisen and it goes to the vi––Œöa number two arisen, it goes to the vi––Œöa number three, so on. In this way we can understand the vi––Œöa dependently arisen. Although it is not the part of our daily experience, maybe we can sharply see that reality of vi––Œöa arising and ceasing in the fairly developed stage of the meditation.


What we see is the unbroken continuity of vi––Œöa but what the Buddha says that there is no such vi––Œöa; every thing is dependently arisen. Why it makes us struggle is because of the concept of Atman; we cannot easily get rid of this belief of soul. In philosophy there is a distinction between appearance and reality. In human being what appears is basically unchanging continuous existence but what is real is dependently arisen. We don’t see it that much clearly; we don’t see it as reality because our experience is not that sharp. Of course it can be seen by the meditator who achieved that level so they can see it as we see the slow motion movie. This is the aspect of vi––Œöa which is basically arising from the sensory experience.


However, there is another form of vi––Œöa spoken in the different context. In the MahŒ NidŒna Sutta, the Buddha talks of how human being is conceived. There are three factors: mother in proper physical state; sexual or physical union; and gandhabba must be present. This third factor, gandhabba, refers to the person who is born. In describing this, the Sutta says that vi––Œöa descents into the mother’s womb. This kind of language is fairly gross language. What kind of vi––Œöa we are talking here? Is the same vi––Œöa as we mentioned above which is the vi––Œöa arising and ceasing or something else like vi––Œöa of the person who is dead? But this is the key term to refer to connection between the person who is dead and the person who is born. To know how it actually happens, this state does not help very much.


There are some other nagging questions. What is the accurate point of dependent originated situation? Where is the person who is dead and born? Nobody knows the exact answer to this kind of question. It would be easy to answer that there is a different sort of vi––Œöa goes through saµsara. But Buddhism does not accept that kind of vi––Œöa. The Buddhist answer is that vi––Œöa is there as a continuous process; every vi––Œöa is dependently arisen action; the present vi––Œöa is the juncture of the results of all the previous vi––Œöas. The vi––Œöa at this point (number two) is the result of the vi––Œöa number one as well as the juncture of the vi––Œöa number three; therefore the vi––Œöa number three is the results of the vi––Œöa number one and two; number four is the results of number one and two and three, so on. Unless we imagine mind to be something like this, we cannot explain what happens in transmitting of kamma from the past to the present and to the future in saµsara. Otherwise, we would think that kamma is something goes around outside of our mind; but kamma cannot be that kind of thing; it is a sort of power behavior of our mind. Therefore it is transmitted with the ever-changing process of mind.


We can think of our present physical and mental conditions as the total accumulation of the past conditions since we were born. If it is true that our present moment is the total accumulation of all the past physical and mental conditions and the juncture of the future conditions within this very life, why not can it be the same accumulation of all the past conditions and the same juncture of all the future conditions of this long saµsaric existence? At least we can accept the present moment as a kind of karmic accumulation of the past.


On the other hand, the modern science is very much deterministic style as the genetic engineering tries to find predictable human behaviors. According to Buddhism, however, human being is not totally programmed by any predetermined factors. If somebody says that the Buddha could see in his omniscience the future of everyone one hundred percent, it is completely misunderstanding of Buddhism.[25] If you believe the Buddha’s penetration as a deterministic sense, how can you match it with the theory of anicca? The basic conviction of Buddhism is anicca; everything is impermanent. Even though it is usually explained as negative terminology, here it can help us to think positively that there is no determined human destiny. It points out the importance of change; you can change the conditions by yourself so that become good or bad. The famous story of AºgulimŒla is a single case in the Buddhist text that shows the criminal became the sage, but still its significance is huge, indicating that there is always possibility of change. The Buddha rejected any kind of determinism because the morality cannot stand on it. Within the framework of causally conditioned, people are capable of change.


There are ongoing discussions within the Buddhist schools about vi––Œöa after death. From the Theravada point of view, there is no interruption between death and rebirth. Vi––Œöa continues after death without interruption, but with other physical basis; of course it has to begin with the condition of the new physical basis; you cannot think like old man with the baby conditions of physical body. This does not refuge the existence of individuals. What Buddhism rejects is the unchanging permanent soul behind each individual. If you are on the right path, you will see, at one point of development of your mind, that everything you have believed conventionally is based on falsehood; your metaphysical foundation will broke down. For our ordinary experience, however, still anatta theory is not easy to understand. We keep asking that who is going to be liberated. Buddhism answers that so long as you think ‘I’ will go to be liberated, you will never get the liberation. There is no such ‘I’ to be liberated. This is what anatta means.



Lecture 15 (June 14, 2006)



       Thinking about the third important term for mind is citta. This term is used in the context as citta has to be developed. When you come into a soteriological aspect, Buddhism talk about citta bhŒvanŒ (mind to be developed), not mano or vi––Œöa to be developed. In the thematic stanza of Visuddhimagga: establishing oneself on the sīla; developing citta and pa––a. Here the citta is equivalent of samŒdhi; to develop citta means to develop samŒdhi. The Buddha says, in Anguttara nikŒya, a developed mind becomes quite useful while an undeveloped mind is disadvantageous. So citta can be developed citta which brings good while it can be undeveloped citta which brings bad.


       The Buddha says that if your mind is well placed, that well placed mind will do so much good for you more than your parents can do for you; but ill place mind will do so much harm for you more than your enemies can do for you. If you develop your mind (citta), you are precious; if you don’t develop your mind, you are worse. So the term citta is always used in the context. In the third chapter of Dhammapada, titled as citta vagga, it is said that mind (citta) is flickering, shaky, hard to protect, hard to check; how bad citta can be and how good citta can be, so on.


Thus citta refers to that aspect of your mind to be developed while vi––Œöa refers more to cognitive aspect and mano refers to sensory faculty aspect. Sometimes all three terms are synonymous referring to the same aspect of mind arising and ceasing; but on the other hand, if you see the specific contexts, each term refers to different aspect of mind. Citta refers to more soteriological aspect as it is to be developed; it is more emotional aspect. Although all three are not different things, each refers to different aspect of mind.


If you ask what mind is in Buddhism, the answer will be given in the very complex picture of psychological elements. For example, when you see the concept of taöha, there are 17 or 18 key terms referring to various aspects of psychological connection to citta: citta with raga, citta with dosa, citta with moha, citta with upakkilesa, so on. Why Buddhism pays so much attention to the concept of citta is because it is the part of Buddhist soteriology; nibbŒna will be attained by eradicating all defilements of mind (citta).


In Indian tradition, there are two positions: one is Œstika tradition which positively accepts the existence of the permanent Atman; the other is nŒstika tradition which denies the existence of Atman. Buddhism belongs to this second group. In fact, the theory of Atman is very attractive theory to describe the existence of saµsara. Atman is permanently go around with its karma within the saµsaric world until it is totally liberated; clear and simple explanation. There was a huge difficulty for Buddhism because after Buddhism denied this kind of permanent soul, it could be grouped with materialistic philosophies which also denied the existence of Atman.


So the Buddha made this assertion: “I do not claim that living being is going to be destroyed (sato sattasa vinŒsaµ vibhavaµ ucchedaµ na pa––apemi).” It was the answer to the repeated accusations which insisted that the Buddha taught the destruction of the existed living being. After deny such accusation, however, the Buddha continued to question who that satta is; there is no such satta to be destroyed. The important point is that the Buddha denied the concept of permanent Atman, but unlike materialists, he did not reject the need or necessity of the ethical life.[26]


It is sure that the theory of rebirth and kamma was the part of the early Buddhist teachings but the Buddha did not cling to those theories, but he concerned the ethical matters. Ethical practice passes through stages from basic to advance; if you are far advanced person in ethics, you will not need reward for your moral acts; you will do good things because they are good and will not do bad things because they are bad. But for the person who is in basic level of ethical practice, he will do good things for reward and avoid bad things for fear of punishment. The Buddha did not want to build ethical life based on the metaphysical matter like rebirth and kamma.































Lecture 16 (June 21, 2006)



Purification and Liberation (Visuddhi and Vimutti)



       As we saw, mind as citta is something to be developed. Then citta is a mind which could be defiled and to be purified; citta-visuddhi or citta-vimutti. We don’t talk of mano or vi––Œöa in this sense of the purification of mind.


Visuddhi is a popular term in Buddhism. In Dhammapada Sutta, the Buddha says something interesting that purification and non-purification is up to each individual; no one can purify another person. You cannot make another person impure either. Thus ultimate responsibility of purification and of non-purification is up to each oneself, not up to anybody else. When the Buddha mentions this, he is referring to the Indian context because in Brahmanic society, Indian people are obsessed by the concept of purification; they have lots of rites and rituals which are associated with physical purification.[27]


By saying that no one can purify others or make others impure, the Buddha might refer to the wrong concept of untouchable people in the Brahmanic society. They thought that if you merely pass cross the untouchable, you became impure so that you must go to the Ganges to perform rites and rituals to wash your impurity; if you unknowingly drink a cup of water from those untouchable houses, you must perform some kinds of rituals for purifying yourself. This concept of purification is very strong even up to today in the Indian society. In Brahmanic religious practice, women are associated with this concept of physical purification so that there are bad days for women go to the temple. On the contrary, in Buddhism, there is no such discrimination of women in their religious activities from the very beginning.


The Buddha says, in Dhammapada Sutta, “Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifies another (suddhi asuddhi paccattaµ nŒ––o a––aµ visodhaye).” In other words, you cannot be purified or not be purified by chance. In the background of Brahmanic culture which is considered physical purity as very important thing, Buddhism mentions of visuddhi and vimutti referring to purification of mind.


Along with the visuddhi, a related concept is defilement which has three pŒli terms: kilesa, saµkilesa, and upakkilesa. In other words, you purify your mind of defiling factors such as kilesas, saµkilesas, and upakkilesas. There is a well known statement in Anguttara NikŒya regarding this concept: “Mind is luminous, Bhikkhus, but it is defiled by the defilements coming from outside (pabhassaraµ idaµ bhikkhave cittaµ ta–ca kho Œgantukehi upakkilesehi upakkili  haµ).”


In the later tradition of Buddhism, especially in MahŒyŒna Buddhism, there is well known concept of original mind or luminous mind; it is said that the human mind is originally luminous but it get covered by defilements. Sometimes this original luminous mind is called the Buddha mind. So the task of religious life is to uncover this original mind or the Buddha nature, which everyone has within, by cleaning such defilements.


In TheravŒda tradition, however, the PŒli statement above does not mean such sense as in MahŒyŒna tradition. It is said in PŒli tradition fairly simple just as the mind of ordinary child. When you look at the child’s mind, it is simple, innocent, non-complex, unpolluted, straightforward, and pure. That is what Theravadins say that mind is luminous (pabhassaraµ cittaµ). But that mind is gradually piled up by various causes coming from outside such as parents, education, and friends, so on. Therefore, the pure mind does not mean completely pure as the mind of Arahants. It is pure just in a sense of innocence. The child has potentiality of doing bad things; but Arahants have no such potentiality; their minds are completely pure. According to Buddhism, the child’s mind is not even the same as ‘tabula rasa’ of John Locke because it is not one hundred percent pure white; it has potentiality or proclivity (anusaya) which is from the past long kamma.


The three terms (kilesa, saµkilesa, and upakkilesa) have slightly different meanings: kilesa is defiling factors basically referring to rŒga (lobha), dosa, and moha; saµkilesa can be various different types of obstacles, troubles, and difficult situations; upakkilesa is, for example, five nivaraöas (mental obstructions).


We usually translate dosa as anger, but etymologically it means darken mind, polluted mind, or impure mind; the mind which conflicts with things so that it tries to get away from things. On the contrary, rŒga or lobha means to attach to things. Therefore, rŒga and dosa refer to two opposite characteristics of human mind: I like this or I dislike this; I love that or I hate that, so on. They are the two different forms of human behaviors. These two psychological forces (attachment or repulsion) act because of moha (ignorance); moha is an originating force of rŒga and dosa. Thus rŒga dosa moha are working together. According to the Buddha, ultimately what causes suffering is taöha: it is my attachment to myself; the reason why I attach to myself is because of moha. Therefore, this process summarizes the human reactions toward entire world: as a result of ignorance (moha), I attach to myself (taöha); as a result, I love things (rŒga) and I hate things (dosa).


If you look carefully, the Buddhist discourses always use the terms of kusala and akusala. The lack of rŒga dosa moha is kusala and the presence of rŒga dosa moha is akusala. You must be aware of that these kusala and akusala things are not like pu––a and pŒpa. Kusala and akusala are extremely psychological conditions where the Arahants or the Buddha is characterized. So the behavior shaped by rŒga dosa moha is akusala while the behavior shaped by arŒga adosa amoha is kusala; thus kusala behavior refers to arahants while akusala behavior refers to ordinary people.


The Buddha says that arahant has given up pu––a and pŒpa because these two are directed to saµsaric life. Although you accumulate pu––a, you cannot get rid of saµsara. It is not denied that theory of pu––a and pŒpa usefully encourages people to do good things and to avoid bad things but it is noticed that people won’t get out of saµsaric world by such practice. On the other hand, kusala and akusala are not merely human behaviors but the root (mèla) of those behaviors: kusala-mèla is alobha adosa and amoha; akusala-mèla is lobha dosa moha. While the concept of pu––a and pŒpa came from the Hindu religion into Buddhism, kusala and akusala are the pure Buddhist concept. In practice, pu––a is something you do in expecting something else in return such as born in heaven as a result; but kusala is just behavior characterized by alobha adosa and amoha. Arahants are good example who never need any pu––a but their full behaviors are kusala. They go beyond pu––a and pŒpa but not beyond kusala and akusala though they do not have akusala within. Kusala, as a pure Buddhist term, means skilful, smart and good in doing things while pu––a is a purification connected with kamma or conventional good actions. Thus Buddhism does not reject the traditional practice of good actions but go beyond it, the root of such behaviors.


The upakkilesa refers very often to pa–ca nīvaraöas which are obstructions and hindrances, covering over mind. These five nīvaraöas are as follows:


(1)   kŒma-chanda: is a specific characteristic of lobha; a sensuous desire

(2)   vyŒpŒda: is a specific characteristic of dosa; a anger; a ill will.

(3)   thīna-middha: is a laziness of mind and body; a sloth and torpor.

(4)   uddhacca-kukkucca: is a confused character; unsettled mind; restlessness;

     regret and scruples.[28]

(5)   vicikicchŒ: is being doubtful; a skeptical doubt; uncertainty.


When you attain the one-pointedness (sammŒ-samŒdhi) level during the meditation, your mind becomes calm because those five nīvaraöas are going down. But it does not mean your defilements are totally eradicated; lobha dosa moha are still there in a deeper level even though five obstacles are gone away. In order to purify your mind from those defilements, you should develop your mind from the first jhŒna to the second and third, so on.


The saµkilesa is not necessarily psychological things. It is more simple defilements such as unclean body, dirty room, and mosquitoes around. It is not connected to the deeper meaning of kilesa, but is fairly simple things.


In conclusion, the Visuddhi is a purification of mind; purifying your mind of kilesa, saµkilesa, and upakkilesa; kilesa is defilements in deeper level, upakkilesa is in the level of five nīvaraöas, and saµkilesa is more basic physical and environmental level.



Lecture 17 (June 28, 2006)



       Vimutti means liberation or release or freedom; in Sanskrit there is a similar concept as vimutti is mok·a. So vimuttimagga means the path of freedom while visuddhimagga is the path of purification. Both terms refer to the same things but visuddhi is purification of mind while vimutti is release from something of mind; it is not freedom to something but freedom from something. Conception behind this is mind is understood as bound and imprisoned. Psychologically it is very important concept because there are several psychological states of mind from which mind is to be liberated.


       There are several key concepts which are connected to vimutti. In the SŒma––aphala Sutta (DN), mind at the first jhŒna stage is described as five ways thus: it is released or escaped from prison, from slavery, from desert, from sickness, and from debt. This talks about only the first jhŒna stage, not higher than that. But even in this very first stage of jhŒna, it is already mentioned of freedom from something. Those five forms of freedom, which are described in popular terminology, are certain stages of vimutti.


       But basically when we talk of vimutti, the related concept is sa––ojana (saµ + yojana) which means to bind (mind) and another term is bandhana, to tie (mind). Buddhist texts talk about ten sa––ojana, psychological fetters which bind person to saµsara:


The five lower fetters


(1)   sakkŒya di  hi: self-view.

(2)   vicikicchŒ: doubt.

(3)   sīlabbata-parŒmŒsa: excessive adherence to rites and rituals.

(4)   kŒma-rŒga: attachment to pleasures.

(5)   pa igha: hatred.


The five higher fetters


(6)   rèpa-rŒga: attachment to form.

(7)   arèpa-rŒga: attachment to formlessness.

(8)   mŒna: measuring; measuring oneself as center; conceit.

(9)   uddhacca: confusion.

          (10) avijjŒ: ignorance.


Some of these terms come as nīvaröa also because the same phenomena has various different types of characteristics. For example, vicikicchŒ as nīvaraöa is operating to be obstacles of mind; but as sa––ojana it is operating to bind person to saµsara.


SakkŒya di  hi is the view on one’s own body. It is a kind of ŒtmavŒda (self-view). ĀtmavŒda has different levels; sakkŒya di  h is pretty basic level of self-view. The Buddha analyzed human being as nothing more than pa–cakkhandha unlike the prominent concept of Œtman among the Brahmins. However, even in Buddhism itself, subsequently people adhered to subtle form of ŒtmavŒda; nobody believed in Œtman in gross sense but they believed in much more subtle form of fundamental reality; this kind of realism is called dharma-vŒda. If you look deeper into the subsequent Abhidhamma texts, it talks of paramattha-dhamma is believed to exist really; it indicates that if you analyze reality into the final stages, ultimately you will be left with paramattha-dhamma; so it is the irreducible state of existence. Then it came to be a kind of subtle form of Œtma-vŒda.[29]


Thus sakkŒya di  hi, self-belief, has several different stages. When this basic level of self-view or self-belief goes away, person becomes sotŒpanna. That does not mean that the craving is completely gone or the complete sense of ŒtmavŒda is gone; the ultimate stage of total detachment from self-belief is Arahantship.[30]


VicikicchŒ is a doubt in the sense of uncertainty which prohibiting mind from settling down. There are several different levels or stages of vicikicchŒ.[31] On the one hand, the Buddha says that if you have any questions, feel free to ask them; but on the other hand, you cannot all the time keep on questions. At some point, you must make up your mind to sit down and meditate. Thus vicikicchŒ is not a sin, not morally bad thing; but it is a hindrance and bond of mind. It can be a nīvaraöa or a sa––ojana; the same thing but different functions. In order to be free from it, you must determine your mind to follow the Buddha.[32]


The higher fetters are the things you have in the fairly advanced level. There are certain stages of meditation called rèpajjhŒna and arèpajjhŒna. The rèpajjhŒna is a gradual dissociation from sensory experience. At the first jhŒna you have thinking, pondering and all those things; at the second jhŒna that part is gone; so gradually you are getting away from your sensory experience; you don’t hear and you don’t get anything. But still it is called rèpajjhŒna because you are operating at the material level. That means you are based on your physical body. Then gradually your physical body becomes so subtle and light; you are still conscious but nothing really comes into you. But you are still within the physical level of experience.


The next step is arèpajjhŒna where your rèpa aspect is gone; nothing physical really; you are concentrating on the immaterial sphere. Then you enjoy and hook into that fantastic experience; you don’t go beyond it. Therefore, rèpa-rŒga and arèpa-rŒga indicate that meditator can reach such levels but always be ready to forget; attachment to such experience becomes sa––ojana. The Buddha did not want to be stuck on it. The Buddha got such stages under the Alārakalāma and Uddakarāmaputta, but he did not want to stay with them because what he wanted was not such temporal achievement but a total freedom from defilements even during actively working for others in the society.


MŒna and uddhacca are much deeper psychological states. The mŒna is measure. It can be different types of mŒna. Measuring is a universal characteristic of human mind; we always compare with others. Although it is fairly higher stage, you are still in sa––ojana; as long as you are measuring, you are bound by concept of ‘I.’ In the discourses, there are various terms which refer to similar things: sa––ojana, bandhana, and yoga.[33] All those psychological terms have complex functions of those characteristics.


       Uddhacca here would be confusion in the sense of not sure to what level the meditator has reached; he does not know clearly of his own spiritual stage, even though he has attained such higher level. Therefore it is different from uddhacca-kukkucca which is one of the five hindrances of mind.




Lecture 18 (July 5, 2006)


Thirty Seven Aspects of Enlightenment




       What is the meaning of this collection of thirty seven? It covers practically entire Buddhism. So we cannot discuss all of them in detail. We can enumerate them thus:


       1. Four foundations of mindfulness (satipa  hŒna)

       2. Four right efforts (sammŒppadhŒna)

       3. Four steps of achievement (iddhipŒda)

       4. Five faculties (indriya dhammas)

       5. Five powers (bala)

       6. Seven aspects of Enlightenment (bojjhaºga)

       7. Eightfold path.


       We will go through each briefly in order to have some general idea and discuss over them.


1. Four forms of establishing mindfulness (satipa  hŒna): (1) establishing mindfulness on body (kŒya); (2) establishing mindfulness on feeling (vedanŒ); (3) establishing mindfulness on thought (citta); (4) establishing mindfulness on phenomena (dhamma).


2. Four right efforts (sammŒppadhŒna) are as follows: (1) effort to eliminate the evils that are already arisen; (2) effort not to allow the evils that are not arisen; (3) effort to generate the virtues that are not arisen; (4) effort to enhance the virtues that are already arisen.


3. Four steps of achievement (iddhipŒda) in PŒli terms: (1) chanda (willingness, desire); (2) citta (mind); (3) viriya (energy); (4) vimaµsa (discriminative knowledge).


4. Five faculties (indriya dhammas): (1) saddhŒ (faith); (2) viriya (energy); (3) sati (mindfulness); (4) samŒdhi (concentration); (5) pa––a (wisdom).


5. Five powers (bala dhammas) are same as five faculties (indriya dhamma).


6. Seven aspects of Enlightenment (sambojjhaºga)[34]: (1) sati-sambojjhaºga (mindfulness aspect of enlightenment); (2) dhamma-vicaya-sambojjhaºga (investigation of dhamma); (3) viriya-sambojjhaºga (energy); (4) piti-sambojjhaºga (joy); (5) pasaddhi-sambojjhaºga (composure); (6) samŒdhi-sambojjhaºga (concentration); (7) upekkhŒ-sambojjhaºga (equanimity).


7. Eightfold path (a  haºgika-magga).


These are the thirty seven aspects of enlightenment. First of all, we have to understand the meaning of those collections: why do we collect all these together; what is the meaning of it. We can notice that the meaning sammŒppadhŒna is actually same as sammŒvŒyŒma of the eightfold path. The term sammŒppadhŒna derives from the verb padahati which means ‘strives, works hard, puts effort.’ It implies striving for meditation. So sammŒppadhŒna and sammŒvŒyŒma are the same. If we look at the list carefully, we can observe that one contains the other and vise versa. For example, eightfold path contains the four noble truths; and four noble truths contain the eightfold path. We can also observe that viriya quite often has various meanings: it is sammŒvŒyŒma, viriya-indriya, and viriya-sambojjhaºga, so on. Thus viriya (energy) comes in various forms.


This list as a whole is very important because it provides good answer to some questions we have now; very often we take one category and get perplexed with it, asking why this is here. I think what really happen was that these categories were taught by the Buddha in different occasions to different people and later the whole thing was put together called thirty seven aspects of enlightenment.


If you look at any single group, it can lead to enlightenment; it covers the whole thing. Each aspect, except iddhipŒda,[35] is the collection of dhamma; if you see any of them, you look at the whole thing. If you practice satipa  hŒna, it does not mean that you practice it alone and go to the other things; in fact, when you practice satipa  hŒna, you practice every thing; and then from that you go to vipassanŒ. The same as it, when you look at saddhŒ, viriya, sati, samŒdhi, and pa––a, from pa––a you go to vipassanŒ; from that you go to the last stage of the path. So ultimately there is no contradiction; in each way you go, ultimately they lead you to the same destiny. But when we look at dhamma taught by the Buddha to different people, actually dhamma takes very different forms.  


The Buddha taught BŒhiya DŒrucīriya briefly because he did not have much time. The Buddha said, “when you see something, just take it as seen; when you hear something, just take it as heard; when you get anything from other faculties, just take it as they are taken; when you do not attach to things like that, there is end of suffering.” By this central statement the Buddha summarized the whole things. If you look at this simple statement carefully, a deep dhamma of satipa  hŒna is there. BŒhiya DŒrucīriya was a mature person so that he understood what the Buddha meant and became arahant.[36] If you try to put this statement into the list of the thirty seven aspects, you will feel hard to find a place. But if you look at little bit deeply into it, you will find that it fits beautifully into satipa  hŒna or eightfold path.


Therefore, this seeming inconsistency is not really inconsistent. Whatever path you follow, you ultimately end up in the same things.[37] The Buddha never gave impersonal public course; he always talked to particular people depending on their particular needs; and the Buddha gradually elevated those persons to the higher level. Unfortunately those different cases were not all recorded; what we have now is only a gist.[38] We have only essence of what the Buddha taught. The reason why such differences are in the discourses is because each individual has different levels of development; each discourse emphasizes on one aspect of dhamma according to the level of the person who hears the dhamma. We need to keep this in mind.


Therefore, this list of thirty seven bodhipakkhiya dhammŒ is something that developed over times; ultimately developed within the monastic community as a summary. When you go to look at them one after the other, you will find how they are inter-connected. We are not going to examine them in detail but in general.  



Four forms of establishing mindfulness (satipa  hŒna)


       The term sati means mindfulness and pa  hŒna means establishment, so it means establishing mindfulness. Mindfulness (sati) in this context means mindfulness on the wholesome (kusala) objects. It is not really concentrating your mind on anything; one-pointedness of kusala mind is samŒdhi (kusala citta ekaggatŒ samŒdhi). Satipa  hŒna here means keeping mindfulness on kŒya, vedanŒ, citta, and dhamma.



(1) KŒyŒnupassanŒ


       It begins with mindfulness of in-and-out breathing (ŒnŒpŒnasati). The breathing is a natural happening of which we don’t have to think on purpose; we can do other things while breathing. Basic insight here is that now we start watching this basic, automatic and natural happening of our body; in meditation we try to be aware of it. Mindfulness is not breathing itself, but being aware of this natural phenomenon. What you have to do is just waiting and see; you just see what happens.


When you keep mindful on breathing, subsequently on your entire bodily movements such as sitting, standing, walking, and lying down, you will ultimately remove the excessive desire and aversion in the world (vineyya loke abhijjhŒ domanassaµ). The main idea is that we must do our bodily movements or behaviors without desire and aversion (abhijjhŒ domanassa); do things with mindfulness; be conscious of what you are doing. There are many other ways of kŒyŒnupassanŒ [39]but the basic aspect of them is having removed the excessive desire and aversion in the world by practicing mindfulness. These two terms (abhijjhŒ and domanassa) are very broad categories that the Buddhist psychology uses.[40]


This is what really makes you Buddhist; other wise, you just mindfully do something. What is the meaning of mindfully doing something is that you do not allow these things to come into your mind. For the ordinary people, it can be experienced temporally; but for arahants, who eradicated the whole lobha dosa moha, twenty four hours are without abhijjhŒ domanassa. When you try to not have abhijjhŒ domanassa in your mind, gradually turn into kusala citta ekaggatŒ; thus concentrating of mind and avoiding of abhijjhŒ domanassa go together.[41]   


(2) VedanŒnupassanŒ


       The vedanŒ is one aspect of our experience and feeling; happy feelings, unhappy feelings, and neuter feelings. Your leg pain is feeling; then you watch it. The beautiful thing is that you don’t try to stop such feeling but just try to see what happens and what goes on; what comes and what disappears. While watching thus, subsequently you can have what you want in your mind. But initially you are not doing anything; you just watch what is comes and goes; if the anger comes, just watch it as anger; if it goes away, just watch it as it goes away. When you recognize feelings come and go, the power of such emotional ideas is weakened. When I know that I am angry, the kind of angry force is gone although the anger is not totally eradicated.


       In vedanŒnupassanŒ, just as kŒyŒnupassanŒ, you start seeing vedanŒ but do not start seeing atman or person or any agent which operates such feelings. You start seeing only experience; no experience as such.



(3) CittŒnupassanŒ


       The citta can be thought with rŒga or without rŒga; thought with dosa or without dosa; thought with moha or without moha; and various types of cetasika such as energetic mind and unenergetic mind, lazy mind and non-lazy mind, etc. Therefore, just as kŒyŒnupassanŒ and vedanŒnupassanŒ, cittŒnupassanŒ means to see such stages of mind as they are without falling into abhijjhŒ domanassa. If we are beginner, we may take minutes and hours to see such thought moments; but for good meditator it will take a just short time to see what mind is. So there are different levels of meditation.



(4) DhammŒnupassanŒ


       If you look at the list of dhamma, you have both kusala and akusala list: it has five nīvaraöa; it has five khandha; it has twelve Œyatana; it has seven bojjhaºga; and it has four noble truths. So in dhammŒnupassanŒ we come back to what we have talked about. Why are they called dhamma? Why is that pa––ca-nīvaröa and four noble truths put together and called dhamma? What is the meaning of that? Dhamma here means phenomena; things come into your mind; ultimately ideas, concepts, and views.


In the VedanŒnupassanŒ, you get the views; in the CittŒnupassanŒ, you get the emotional aspects of mind; and in the dhammŒnupassanŒ, you get the content of your mind. So all four satipa  hŒna are connected each other; you look at your physical behaviors and psychological behaviors and even concepts (dhamma) without abhijjhŒ domanassa.


Lecture 19 (July 12, 2006)


       We saw that satipa  hŒna is understanding of the totality of human being both in physical and psychological basis.



Four steps of achievement (iddhipŒda)


IddhipŒda is states of successful completion of human action: chanda (willingness, motivation); citta (mind, intention); viriya (energy); vimaµsa (intelligence). Among these four steps there is no specifically dhamma within; have nothing much to do with dhamma per se. It is interesting theoretically that chanda indicates “desire to end desire.” Although we are using the same term, ‘desire,’ the former one is a positive chanda (motivation) while the latter is a negative meaning of ‘desire.’ In this sense there is no contradiction.



Five spiritual faculties (indriya); powers (bala)


       The five factors are described as internal, spiritual, and intellectual powers as well as faculties: saddhŒ (faith); viriya (energy); sati (mindfulness); samŒdhi (concentration); pa––a (wisdom). The term saddhŒ signifies basic confidence of human action; the human action begins with saddhŒ and culminates with pa––Œ; the process from belief to knowledge. When people met the Buddha, a kind of basic faith was needed to understand his teaching and follow it. The basic confidence says, “O.K. He is worthy of listening.” But further listening, some people felt to change their former behaviors or former faith. They came to have stronger faith. They were required to committee themselves into more drastic faith because without following and practicing path, nobody could reach nibbŒna or know about it.


       SaddhŒ is needed in order to complete any kind of human action; every time you make a decision; you are taking the risk; it is not a blind faith, but a reasonable faith; you are searching the reason for such faith.[42] When I take a medicine, I need such faith; but when I got healed by the medicine, I don’t need faith any more because now I know already that the medicine can heal my ill. Thus faith is the beginning point of knowledge and end up with knowledge.


Faith in Buddhism, therefore, is not necessarily religious sentiment alone, but pretty much a knowledge gaining process. Although you need faith at the beginning and have to make an initially crucial decision, the ultimate liberation cannot be reached without pa––Œ in Buddhism. You cannot reach the final goal only with saddhŒ. There are two kinds of saddhŒ found in the Buddhist discourses:


(1)   amulikŒ saddhŒ: faith without fruit, but still can function.

(2)   ŒkŒravatī saddhŒ: rational, internal faith.


Faith, whether it is fruitless or rational, is good; but ultimately your faith must be based on the reason. To start, you need saddhŒ, but once you go on and reach the goal, you don’t need saddhŒ any more. This is the reason why the term asaddhŒ is used to describe the state of Arahants; they don’t need saddhŒ any more. When you listen to the Buddha, you must do something differently from before; you need faith; you must decide drastically whether to follow dhamma or not. But when you get the knowledge, as a result of the different behaviors, then you don’t need such faith any more.



Lecture 20 (August 2, 2006)



BhŒvanŒ (Meditation; Mental Development)



       The idea of bhŒvanŒ comes from bhŒveti (to develop). But usual translation of it into English is ‘meditation.’ BhŒvanŒ, however, is not a Cartesian way of meditation. Descartes tried to get into the mind and unearth clear and distinct ideas from his mind. This idea of meditation comes in the Western tradition from the idea that ultimately knowledge resides in human mind. So if you carefully analyze and examine human mind, you can find basis of human knowledge. In other words, it is called rationalism. The popular Western concept of meditation comes from that idea: close your eyes and think about your mind, then try to get clear and distinct ideas of your mind and try to communicate with some kind of transcendental reality. This Western rationalism believes that something (knowledge) resides hidden in our mind and you can unearth it through meditation.


       Although it is translated as ‘meditation,’ in the Buddhist context bhŒvanŒ comes from the verb bhŒveti which means ‘to develop.’ So sometimes it is translated as ‘mind-culture’ which makes more sense. Mind-culture means ‘development of mind.’ If you want to know the Buddhist analysis of mind, you can look at one chapter of the Dhammapada called Citta-Vagga. In this chapter, the Buddha talks of various aspects of mind starting from the ordinary mind, fickleness of mind, how far changing mind is and so on. In one place, the Buddha says that well-placed (trained) mind serves you much better than your most beloved friend; ill-placed (untrained) mind gives you much more serious damage than your worst enemy can do. At the beginning of Anguttara NikŒya also lots of short suttas are there talking of the nature of mind. So the idea of bhŒvanŒ comes from that background which thinks of bhŒvanŒ as development of mind.


In the Buddhist tradition, there are two basic forms of bhŒvanŒ: samatha and vipassanŒ. From developing samatha bhŒvanŒ we get samŒdhi and from developing vipassanŒ bhŒvanŒ we get pa––Œ. When we talk about threefold discipline (Tisso-SikkhŒ), we mention sīla, samŒdhi, and pa––Œ. Here if look at samatha and samŒdhi, in a sense both mean the same; but samatha is the kind of process and samŒdhi is the result. So what you get by the means of samatha meditation is samŒdhi. Samatha is the pacification of the mind. It is to collect mind together which is scattered and dispersed all over. There is a famous stanza which became the theme for the Visuddhimagga: sīle pati  hŒya naro sapa––o cittaµ pa––a– ca bhŒvayaµ (establishing oneself on sīla, one should develop citta and pa––Œ).[43] So developing citta is equal to samatha; also it is equal to samŒdhi. Although sometimes we can talk of means and ends separately but ultimately both are same.


The term vipassanŒ comes from vi + passati which means ‘to see in a special manner.’ Through seeing in an extraordinary manner (vipassanŒ), you get pa––Œ. The term pa––Œ comes from pajŒnŒti which means ‘to know.’ So pa––Œ means knowledge, the act of knowing.


If you look at these two terms, you must be able to see two different things. Samatha and SamŒdhi are talk of some kind of qualitative character in your experience. They are concentration and collectedness of the mind. On the other hand, VipassanŒ indicates more cognitive things; something related to knowing and knowledge; to see and to know. Buddhism is so called empiricism because basically it believes that knowledge derives from sensory experiences. If you look at this terms of passati (to see) and jŒnŒti (to know), it is clear that seeing is knowing and knowing is seeing, though it is not an ordinary seeing. So the last stage is that cognitive stage. Samatha (or SamŒdhi) state is more qualitative part of your experience, but the last aspect of meditation is cognitive stage; to know and to see. In Buddhist tradition, passati and jŒnŒti go together always.


These two meditations are ultimately the means for final liberation. So the final liberation ultimately comes from some form of knowing (seeing and understanding), though it is different from a normal knowing. If we examine Buddhist texts deeply, we can find that there are very important several PŒli terms which denote various levels of knowing. We will go into those things later but basically when we talk abut the bhŒvanŒ as samatha and vipassanŒ, we can see this whole process.[44] The basic idea here is that samatha is to develop the mastery of your mind and vipassanŒ is to focus and direct that developed mind to see things as they are; sharpen your mind and use it for different purposes.


SamŒdhi has a technical meaning: it is to concentrate mind on kusala-object (kusala citta ekaggatŒ samŒdhi). This tries to distinguish between mind concentrated on something very neutral or something ethically bad and mind concentrated on something ethically good. If the concentration of mind is developed for the bad purpose, it is not SamŒdhi; SamŒdhi is development of the concentrated mind proper. The main reason why mind cannot be concentrated on those things properly is because mind has five hindrances (pa–ca-nīvaraöa). Therefore, actually SamŒdhi occurs when gradually these five hindrances go away; then our mind becomes very calm and quiet.


When the five hindrances are gradually gone from the mind, the state achieved is called the first jhŒna. There are four stages of jhŒna. The three terms (samatha, samŒdhi, and jhŒna) are kind of intermingle types of things but jhŒna refers to a particular state of mind; as samŒdhi, jhŒna is also the result of concentration; it is a kind of absorbed state of mind; gradually your senses are getting away from the external world; it is a simple technique to develop one pointedness of the mind. Thus jhŒnas are marked by absorption within and dissociation from the outside reality. In other words, the person who is in jhŒna state cannot feel anything or hear any sounds from outside. In our day to day lives we also sometimes get things like that; when you are so absorbed in something, we don’t hear people talking, we don’t see friends passing, and we don’t feel things happening. Although we are not in samŒdhi state, similarly we can be totally absorbed in one thing.


Now jhŒna is more intensive type of such experience characterized by seclusion; secluded character from external reality. The first jhŒna is described as thinking and wandering; your thinking and reasoning goes on, although you don’t see, don’t hear, and even don’t talk at all; it is a pretty basic stage. In the second jhŒna stage reasoning out process also goes down, so nothing comes into your mind. In the third jhŒna just feelings remain. In the fourth jhŒna, not even feelings but only equanimity; what you have is even not one-pointedness of the mind because there is no point; it is kind of substantial vacuum and empty stage; concentration of mind becomes such totally away from.


What is the connection this jhŒna stages with vipassanŒ is very important thing because sometimes we have wrong impression that you go to vipassanŒ within that jhŒna stage. But you must come out from that exclusive stage of jhŒna experience in order to go into vipassanŒ meditation; it is a different types of development. VipassanŒ is not going through within the jhŒna experience; even from the first jhŒnic level of concentration of the mind, you can direct your mind into vipassanŒ. But sometimes people like to enjoy this jhŒna experience. This is the reason why the Buddha says that the jhŒnic experience is also anicca dukkha and anatta; he did not stay in such stages; he came out of them and went further to get the final goal.


These four stages of jhŒna are called rèpajjhŒna which means material jhŒna because the basis for this meditation is the physical body and all experiences are located within the material sphere. Although it is characterized by getting secluded gradually, the experiences are still in the form (rèpa) level.


Beyond those stages are called arèpajjhŒna. It is more of conceptual mind. There are four arèpajjhŒnas: develop the mind in the concept of (1) infinity of space; (2) infinity of consciousness; (3) nothingness; (4) near eradication of perceptions. This last aspect is the concentration on the state of having perception or having no perception. It is difficult to imagine what type of situation is that because we are usually in existence with perceptions. Physically it is impossible to have no perceptions as long as we have body. Through this meditation, ultimately you can reach such level of almost non-perception but not non-perception.


What does such meditation mean? All these meditations are trying to take you get away from the root reality in the world. The root reality in the world means the reality we experience through six senses. When you gradually get away from them, ultimately you become almost nothing and void.[45] JhŒnic experiences are the training of mind getting away from the sensory experiences. After this stage of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (nevasa––Œ-n’Œsa––Œ), the last stage comes called nirodha-samŒpatti which means total and absolute cut off from everything like the time watch stopped; it is a total cessation; there is no sa––Œ at all; so also called sa––Œ-vedayita-nirodha (nothingness of feeling and perceptions. It is told that person can survive in this state for maximum seven days; normally meditator may have such experience for one or two minutes.[46] Buddhism does not encourage those things because it does not get rid of suffering. When you come out of such jhŒna state, you are still not safe in day to day experience.



Lecture 21 (August 16, 2006)



       As we saw above, the term VipassanŒ means ‘to see in a special manner.’ In an ordinary manner we see things as nicca (unchanging), sukkha (pleasarable), and sassata (permanent). VipassanŒ is the opposite way of seeing reality as anicca (impermanent), dukkha (suffering), and anatta (non-substantial). This is different from the ordinary way of perceiving or understanding the reality. When we start seeing things in this special manner, ultimately we are directed to the final goal. The important thing is that we have to see the reality as it is; things are anicca, dukkha and anatta, so we see them as anicca, dukkha and anatta.


       Although things are always undergoing change (anicca), we don’t see them as anicca in day to day life. We are always tempted to see things more optimistically; in every stage of our age we always find interesting things to do proper for each stage. Therefore, the Buddha says, “dukkha comes in the guise of happiness.” The entire world has been made in that ordinary manner; if not, you cannot survive in it. People try to make money as they are immortal beings. In fact, our ordinary way of being and behavior has its own justification.


What is good for you? It depends on what is your purpose of life: if you want to stay in saµsara, you would live in an ordinary manner; but if you want to get out of saµsara, you should do vipassanŒ. The Buddha saw the reality as it is; people are born, decaying, and dying; what he saw was not only day to day suffering, but the existential problem of human being. He saw that there are anicca, dukkha, and anatta in the world. It made him to renounce the world.














Lecture 22 (August 24, 2006)


       Through the VipassanŒ meditation, that is, seeing in the special manner, what has to be developed is the three forms of knowledge described in the discourses. But if you look at discourse like SŒma–Œphala Sutta (DN), it also talks about other types of knowledge: performing the psychic powers, the divine power of hearing, the divine eyes, so on. They are given as instances of what you can get through this practice. But over all attitude has been not very encouraging towards that direction because they are kinds of benefits you can get but not so important for your spiritual development.[47]


       Now our topic is the final aspect of the VipassanŒ–Œöa, the three ultimate forms of knowledge (tisso vijjŒ) which are resulting the realization of arahanthood: (1) pubbenivŒsa anussati –Œöa: to recollect one’s own past residencies;   (2)cutèpapŒta –Œöa: knowledge on the departure and arrival of other beings; (3) Œsavakkhaya –Œöa: knowledge to eradicate the defilements. The Buddha’s realization of the Buddhahood means ultimately realizing these three forms of knowledge which he realized one by one in each of the watch of the night at his enlightenment. So the knowledge of Arahants also means to realize these three forms of knowledge.[48]


The first knowledge is to recollect where you lived in the past. It indicates that you make clear about your own saµsaric existence. The second is to make clear about that not only you who are in the saµsara but all other beings who are undergoing in the saµsaric existence. There are also some kinds of moral explanation; how beings are born according to their kamma (actions).


Let us read the related passage in the SŒma–aphala Sutta itself: “he, with mind concentrated,… applies and directs his mind to the knowledge of previous existences.” Thus on the foundation of samatha meditation, when your mind become clearly under controlled and concentrated, it is important to apply and direct your mind into this particular phenomena, the previous lives. “He remembers many previous existences: one birth, two, three… several periods of contraction and expansion.” It is like kalpas. “There my name was so-and-so, my clan was so-and-so…I lived for so long… Having passed away from there, I arose here. Thus he remembers various past births, their conditions and details.” Now there is a simile here. “It is just as if a man were to go from his village to another, from that to yet another, and thence return to his home village…Just so the monk with mind concentrated… remembers past births… This is a fruit of the homeless life.”[49]


       How do you see these things? I believe that our entire past is within us. It becomes such a problem if we are start thinking of time and space. But otherwise, the whole experience is there for you to go into. Technically if we can go another ten years back, we must be able to go twenty years back, and to childhood; and sometimes we can be taken back to the past world. It also indicates that any being has a very long existence in the saµsara. The point is that it shows beings are in ongoing process in the saµsara rather than assuming tha all beings started at one point. We don’t have to take this argument seriously.


       It has ultimately an ethical significance. What you see is that the process of all beings that are undergoing under the effect of kamma. Everything is the result of kamma (what you do or what you don’t do). So the whole massage has an ethical significance.


       The second knowledge: “And he, with mind concentrated… applies and directs his mind to the knowledge of the passing-away and arising of beings. With the divine eye… he sees beings passing away and arising… It is just as if there were a lofty building at a crossroads, and a man with good eyesight standing there might see people entering or leaving a house, walking in the street, or sitting in the middle of the crossroads…” This simile of the house which some people enter, some people come out, some people in the middle of the road. It is important question: who are those people in the middle of the road? Some say that this passage prove what is called ‘antara-bhava,’ that is, people being in between who are dead, but yet born. There have been very much debate about this term among the different schools throughout the Buddhist history. It is fundamentally something important, for if you believe in antara-bhava, then necessarily you believe in the rebirth any way, no matter how many days or period they stay in between.


       Here a question arises: who is that ‘I’ in the discourse? Who is that individual in ongoing process of rebirth in saµsara? If you understand it in the literal manner, that can be a huge blow to the anatta doctrine. Thus having the anatta doctrine, the Buddhist people still talk of such person who is undergoing rebirth by his own kamma. That is why we have to understand the anatta in different manner; otherwise, we will not be able to talk. It is very interesting if we look at the history of Buddhism or doctrinal debates in Buddhism, all the Buddhists have been faithful to the anatta doctrine while upholding the doctrine of kamma results, nirvana, and saµsara, etc. So the difficulty is not new.[50]


       The last and the most important thing is the knowledge of the destruction of the corruptions (Œsavakkhaya –Œöa). “He knows as it really is: ‘This is suffering;’ he knows as it really is: ‘this is the origin of suffering’… ‘This is the path leading to the cessation of suffering’… And through his knowing and seeing his mind is delivered from the corruption of sense-desire, from the corruption of becoming, from the corruption of ignorance…and the knowledge arises in him: ‘This is deliverance!’ and he knows: ‘Birth is finished, the holy life has been led, done is what had to be done, there is nothing further here.”


       This is very important point: when you know in this manner and you see in this manner, your mind is liberated from kŒma, bhava, and avijja (evaµ jŒnato evaµ passati kŒmŒsavŒ pi cittaµ vimuccati bhavŒsavŒ pi cittaµ vimuccati avijjŒsavŒ pi cittaµ vimuccati). When the person is liberated, knowledge arises that I am liberated (vimuttasmiµ vimuttaµ iti –Œöaµ hoti). This means that you cannot be bumping to liberation. The whole process is very conscious, epistemological, knowledge process. Knowing and seeing is epistemological process: through knowing and seeing your defilements are gone; and you know that your defilements are gone. There were subsequent discussions whether somebody can become Arahant, not knowing that he is an Arahant; but the early Buddhism is very clear about it. You cannot be liberated without knowing that you are liberated.


Another important point is that liberation comes through your own process of knowledge. This is the point of fundamental difference between Buddhism and Christianity: in Christianity the final salvation comes through the grace of God, not by your own achievement; but in Buddhism, as we see here clearly, there is no any other intervention in your liberation. It is you see and you know that you are liberated. Buddhist religious phenomenon is not a mystical thing. There is no any mysticism in this description of liberation. As we can see the bottom of very clear water and fishes and shells in that pond, you see in your mind. This simile is characterized by clarity. This is very important because usually when it comes in religious experience and religious ultimate, the language is clouded with a lot of mysticism such as ‘don’t know’ experience; there is well known book of Christian mysticism called cloud of unknowing which describes the ultimate Christian experience. How sharp differences! We don’t have to argue what is better; just recognize that there are two different types of religious experience: unknowing and clarity.


       This is VipassanŒ-–Œöa. We started talking about meditation (bhŒvanŒ); talked about concentration of the mind (samatha); and we went into vipassanŒ; talked about anicca, dukkha, anatta; then about these three forms