THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON
Venerable MAHASI SAYADAW
Note: Pali terms in this page are created with Unicode CN-Times font.
ELEVENFOLD ANALYSES OF THE AGGREGATES
"All feelings, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or superior, far or near, should be seen with one's own knowledge, as they truly are, thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self."'
This is the exhortation to contemplate feeling analytically under eleven headings, so as to bring out its impermanent, suffering and not self characteristics. Here, past feeling means the sensations experienced in previous existences as well as those experienced days, months or years ago in this very life. There are also those experienced in the earlier part of today. Of these, it is obvious that the feelings of past existences have all ceased to exist, but to those with strong attachment to self, this will not be so obvious: they hold to the view that the self that experienced the sensations of previous existences continues to experience them now. In their view, all the sensations of earlier times in the present existence have not perished and ceased. They believe that the self that had enjoyed sensations before is still enjoying them now.
FEELING IN THE THREE PERIODS OF TIME
If unpleasant feelings such as stiffness, heat, or pain appear while contemplating the rising and falling of the abdomen, the meditator takes note of them. When thus noted, the unbearable feeling gets less and less painful and then vanishes.
When the concentration is specially strong, it will be seen that each pain passes away with each noting. Perceiving thus, the meditator realizes for himself that feelings are not everlasting, they do not endure even for a second, but are incessantly arising and vanishing. It is not only feelings of previous existences that are no longer present, but also earlier feelings of the present existence. The feelings which manifested only a moment ago are also no longer in existence. All these are realized by the observing meditator, who sees also that the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feelings, which are being experienced at the present moment are constantly arising and vanishing. Hence it can be surmised that feelings which will arise in the future will also vanish at the moment of arising. During meditation practice, the contemplation is carried out thus:
1. Feelings of stiffness, heat, pain and discomfort which were experienced a moment ago did not reach the present moment of comfortable feeling. They passed away at the moment of feeling stiff, hot, painful and uncomfort-able. As they passed away in this manner, they are impermanent. And because they are impermanent and unbearable, they are fearsome, a source of suffering. The comfortable feelings of a moment ago did not reach the present moment of intense discomfort, they passed away at that very moment of comfortable feeling, and are therefore impermanent. Since they are impermanent, they are fearsome and a source of suffering. All feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, are not self, without essence.
2. The pleasant or unpleasant feelings of the present repeatedly cease and vanish even while they are being noted and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and not self.
3. The pleasant or unpleasant feelings of the future too will cease and vanish at the moment of their arising. They are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and not self.
This is how feelings of the past, present and future are considered as they are being noted. There is also a method of reflecting on the feelings of the past and the future by inference from the feelings of the present:
"Just as there are now impermanent feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, which cease even as they are being noted, there have been similar feelings before, perishing at the moment of their arising. They are therefore impermanent, suffering and not self. The feelings which will come into being in the future will also pass away at the moment of arising and are thus impermanent, suffering and not self."
Having perceived for ourselves how our feelings pass away, there remains the task of considering by inference the feelings in other people, and the feelings in the whole world:
"Just as the feelings in myself cease and vanish while they are being noted, the feelings in other people, indeed the feelings in the whole world, will also cease and vanish. They too, are impermanent, suffering and not self."
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL FEELINGS
"Just as material form is considered in two aspects, internal and external, the internal material form not becoming external material form and vice versa, so also feeling should be considered in two aspects, internal and external," states the Visuddhimagga. The feeling from inside does not reach outside; the feeling from outside does not reach inside. This is how it should be contemplated. The question arises: Does this mean feelings from inside us not reaching the body of another person and other people's feelings not reaching our body? Nobody believes that feelings go from one person to another, so this manner of contemplation is not meant here. What is meant here is change of object, from internal to external and vice versa.
When feeling that has arisen dependent on an internal object is replaced by feeling that has arisen dependent on an external object, people ordinarily think that the internal feeling has become an external one. Conversely when pleasant or unpleasant feelings conditioned by an external object are replaced by pleasant or unpleasant feelings dependent on an internal object, people think that the external feeling has become an internal one. Similarly, when feelings arising from an object far away change to feelings dependent on a near object, people think that feeling has moved from a far distance to nearby and vice versa. What is meant here, therefore, is change of objects, external and internal, far and near, dependent on which feelings arise.
The meditator who is noting the corporeal and mental phenomena as they occur takes note of the pain when an unpleasant feeling arises in the body. While doing so, if the mind passes on to an external object and feelings of happiness or sorrow subsequently arise, these feelings should be noted as happiness or sorrow. Thus, during this time of careful noting, the original feeling of unpleasant-ness does not reach outside, it ceases internally. Then attention is switched on to an external object which causes the arising of new feeling. The meditator thus understands these phenomena.
He fully understands also when the reverse process takes place; that is, the original feeling of happiness, for example, arising from an external object, ceases, and new feeling of pain is experienced internally. Internal feeling does not reach outside; external feeling does not reach inside. Feelings arise and cease at the respective moments of becoming and are thus impermanent, suffering and not-self.
COARSE AND FINE FEELINGS
If we begin to feel subtle painful feelings while experiencing gross sensations of pain, we tend to believe that the gross sensations have changed into subtle ones. From experiencing subtle pains, when the feeling becomes very grossly painful, the belief is that the subtle pains have grown into gross pains. The watchful meditator, however, sees with every noting that painful sensations perish, part by part, section by section, and therefore knows that the subtle pains have not changed into gross ones, nor the gross ones into subtle ones. The old feelings perish and are replaced by new ones arising in their place. This is impermanence. The meditator realizes all this through his own knowledge.
Gross pains do not become subtle pains and vice versa. They perish at their respective moments of arising. Thus, feeling is impermanent, suffering and not self.
INFERIOR AND SUPERIOR FEELINGS
Painful sensations in the body are regarded as inferior forms of feeling whereas fine, pleasant sensations are regarded as superior kinds. Likewise, unhappiness, sorrow, dejection, and sadness are inferior feelings, while happiness and gladness are of the superior kind. In other words, feeling angry, depressed and unhappy is inferior feeling; feeling happy is superior feeling. But here again, happiness from delighting in sensual objects is inferior to happiness from devotional piety towards an object of worship, such as the Buddha. As the experiences of feeling change from one type to another, people usually think that the inferior feeling has become a superior one, or the superior feeling has changed into one of inferior type. But the meditator perceives that the feelings cease even as they are being noted, and therefore knows that superior feeling does not become inferior, nor does inferior feeling become superior. They perish at the moment of their arising and are, therefore, impermanent.
The pain of inferior feeling does not become the happiness of superior feeling. Nor does the superior feeling become inferior feeling. They cease at the moment of their arising and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
FAR AND NEAR FEELINGS
We have already dealt with considerations of feelings far and near: feelings arising from distant objects do not become feelings dependent on near objects; feelings with regard to near objects do not become feelings concerned with distant objects. They cease at the moment of experiencing them and so they are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
ELEVENFOLD ANALYSIS OF PERCEPTION
The Blessed One said:
Ya kāci saññā, atītānāgatapaccuppannā ajjhattā vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikā vā sukhumā vā hīnā vā paṇītā vā yā dūre santike vā sabbā saññā netaṁ mama neso hamasmi na meso attāti. Eva metaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ.
"All perceptions, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or superior, far or near should be seen with one's own knowledge, as they truly are, thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self'."
This is the exhortation to analyze perception under eleven headings -- past, future, present, internal, external, gross, fine, inferior, superior, far or near-so as to bring out its impermanent, suffering and not-self nature. Here, past perception means the perceptions experienced in previous existences as well as those experienced previously in this life time. Of these past perceptions, it is obvious that perceptions of previous existences have long ceased to exist. However, to those with strong attachment to self, this may not be so obvious because of their view that the same self that recognized and remembered things in previous existences continues to recognize and remember things now; that all acts of recognizing have been done and are being done by the one self, the same self; that in this lifetime too, what was recognized in younger days or very recently is always the work of one and the same self.
The meditator who is ever watchful of the rising and falling of the abdomen and the phenomena that arise at the moment of sensory impingement finds that the perception of sound disappears at once when noted as "hearing, hearing;" the perception of sight vanishes when noted as "seeing, seeing;" so also the perceptions of thoughts and ideas disappear as soon as they are noted as thoughts or ideas. Observing thus, realization comes through personal knowledge that perception is not everlasting; it does not last even one second and has the nature of incessantly ceasing. Let alone perceptions perceived in previous existences, even in the present life, perceptions experienced in past moments are no longer existent, they have all ceased and vanished. This the meditator can see for himself. Even the perceptions that occurred only a moment ago have passed away. So also have the perceptions based on the acts of seeing, hearing and touching in the present moment. They are repeatedly arising and vanishing. Thus it can be concluded that perceptions arising in the future will also disappear at the moment of their becoming.
During meditation practice, the nature of perception is analyzed as follows:
1. The perceptions which recognized sense objects a moment ago do not reach the present moment; they disappeared even while recognizing. Therefore they are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
2. The perceptions which are recognizing and remembering things now also perish while actually recognizing. Therefore, they are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
3. The perceptions which will recognize things in the future will also vanish at the time of recognizing and they are therefore impermanent, suffering and not self. Perceptions of the past and the future and of the whole world can be inferred from the knowledge of the perceptions which manifest at the time of noting. just as the perceptions are ceasing as they are being noted in the present, so also the perceptions of the past vanished as they occurred and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not self. Likewise the perceptions arising in the future will also disappear at their respective moments of occurrence and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not self. The perceptions in one's person, in other people, and in the whole world also vanish at the moments of their arising and are all impermanent, suffering, not self.
That the perceptions (which recognize and remember things) are impermanent is quite obvious if we just reflect on how easily we forget things we have studied or once memorized.
Perceptions with regard to one's own body do not reach the moment of perceiving external objects; perceptions on outside bodies do not last till internal objects are perceived -- they perish at the respective moments of their arising and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not self.
Perceptions with regard to desire and craving, anger and transgression, conceit, wrong view, doubts and misgivings, are all unwholesome, they are perceptions of the gross type. Perceptions with regard to devotional piety towards the Blessed One, a Dhamma discourse, good advice and instructions from teachers and parents are fine, subtle types of perception, they are perceptions of the superior type. The gross types belong to the inferior class of perceptions. In other words, recognition of prominent, coarse objects is coarse perception; recognition of fine objects is subtle perception.
Coarse perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of fine perceptions; fine perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of coarse perceptions. They vanish at the respective moment of occurrence and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
Inferior perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of superior perceptions; so also superior perceptions do not reach the moment of occurrence of inferior perceptions. They vanish at the respective moments of occurrence and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
Recognizing and remembering distant, fine objects is called perception of the far distance; recognizing coarse, near objects, objects in one's person, is called near perception. A distant perception does not reach the moment of occurrence of a near perception; a near perception does not reach the moment of occurrence of a distant perception. They vanish at the moment of arising and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
ELEVENFOLD ANALYSIS OF VOLITIONAL FORMATIONS
The Blessed One stated:
Ye keci saṅkhārā atītānāgatapaccuppañña ajjhattā vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikā vā sukhumā vā hīnā vā paṇītā vā ye dūre santike vā sabbe saṅkhārā netaṁ mama, neso hamasmi na meso attāti evametaṁ yathābūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabaṁ.
"All volitional formations, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or superior, far or near, should be seen with one's own knowledge, as they truly are, thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self'."
This is the instruction to contemplate volitional formations analytically under eleven headings so as to bring out their impermanent, suffering and not-self nature.
Here it should be noted that there are many dhammas classified under saṅkhārakkhandha. We have already stated that apart from feeling and perception, the remaining fifty kinds of mental concomitants come under the classification of saṅkhārakkhandha. In brief, saṅkhāra are the motivating forces behind physical, vocal and mental activities. They are responsible for the changes between the four bodily positions of walking, standing, sitting and lying down. Saṅkhāra give the commands: "Now go, now stand, now sit down." They also initiate actions such as bending, stretching, moving and smiling. It is also these saṅkhāra which cause vocal actions, just as if they were ordering, "now say this." They are also responsible for acts of thinking, seeing and hearing.
Thus, saṅkhāra of past existences -- the wish to go, stand or speak -- could not come over to the present existence, could they? Did they not all perish and pass away, then and there? It is obvious that the desires to do, take or think in previous existences have now entirely vanished. But those who cling firmly to the belief, "It is I who is doing all actions; all actions are being done by me," are attached to the idea of a single self. "It is I who has done all the actions in the previous existence; the doer in the present existence is also I". For them, I the doer is everlasting.
To the meditator who is constantly watching the rise and fall of the abdomen, when an itchy feeling is felt, he notes "itching, itching". While noting thus, if the desire to scratch the itchy spot arises, he immediately notes, "desire to scratch, desire to scratch." The saṅkhāra, namely the desire to scratch, is seen to disappear every time it is noted. Also while noting, "stiff, stiff" because of a feeling of stiffness, if the desire to bend or stretch appears, it has to be noted. Thus the saṅkhāra, namely the desire to bend, to stretch or change posture, perishes when noted, and keeps on perishing.
In this manner, the volitional formations of wishing to change, to talk or to think are seen to be constantly ceasing.
For the meditator, not only volitional formations of past existences, but presently forming volitional formations are seen to be constantly perishing. Thus he knows that volitional formations of past existences have not come over to the present, that present volitional formations will not go over to the future, and that future volitional formations will not move over to a later time; they vanish at the moment of arising. He realizes with his own knowledge that volitional formations are impermanent, suffering and not self.
In meditation practice, volitional formations are contemplated as follows:
1. The intention to step out with the right foot of a moment ago does not reach the moment of intending to step out with the left foot; the intention to step out with the left foot of a moment ago does not reach the moment of intending to step out with the right foot: they perish and vanish at the respective moments of arising, and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and not-self. Similarly, the volitional formations of the past do not reach the present moment. They perish at the moment of their arising and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
2. The presently forming volitional formations of desiring to do or of careful noting do not reach the next moment. They are always dissolving as they are formed and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
3. The volitional formations which will arise in the future concerning the desire to do and careful noting will also cease without reaching a later future time. They are consequently impermanent, suffering and not-self
With the knowledge of the volitional formations which occur at the time of noting, the volitional formations of the past, the future and of the whole world can be inferred in the same manner.
Just as the impermanent volitional formations of wishing to do and noting are perishing even while being noted, so also did the volitional formations of the past vanish at the time of occurrence. They are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and not-self. Likewise, the voli-tional formations of the future will also disappear at the respective moments of occurrence and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and not self. The volitional formations of one's own person or in other people, and indeed the whole world, also perish and vanish, just like the volitional formations which are being noted at the present moment. They are all impermanent, suffering and not-self.
The differentiation between internal and external volitional formations is the same as the one we have described for feelings and perceptions: volitional formations on an internal object are internal; those developed concerning an external object, that is, thoughts of acquiring or destroying external objects, animate or inanimate, are external.
Volitional formations concerning an internal action cease before reaching the moment of thinking of an external action. Therefore they are impermanent, suffering and not-self. Similarly with respect to volitional formations concerning external actions.
Thinking of doing a rough action is a coarse type of volitional formation; contemplating doing fine, subtle deeds is a fine type of volitional formation.
Volitional formations of the coarse type do not become volitional formations of the fine type, and vice versa. They perish at the moments of arising and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
All kinds of thinking about and performing bad deeds are inferior volitional formations. Thinking of and doing meritorious deeds are superior volitional formations. Among meritorious deeds, the act of keeping precepts is superior to acts of charity, meditation is superior to keeping precepts, and insight meditation is superior to concentration meditation.
Inferior volitional formations do not reach the moment of arising of superior volitional formations; superior volitional formation too, do not reach the moment of arising of inferior volitional formation. They perish at the respective moments of their arising and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not-self.
The volitional formations of charitable deeds do not reach the moment of arising of the volitional formations of keeping precepts, and vice versa. The volitional formations of keeping precepts do not reach the moment of arising of volitional formations of meditation, and vice versa. The volitional formations of the development of concentration meditation do not reach the moment of arising of volitional formations of insight meditation, and vice versa. They all vanish at the moment of their arising and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not-self.
Contemplation on the volitional formations of unwholesome and wholesome deeds is very subtle, but the ardent meditator can see from his own personal experience how these volitional formations keep on vanishing at their respective moments of arising. For instance, while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, if desirous thoughts arise, the meditator notes that phenomenon as "wanting, desiring." When noted thus, the desirous thoughts vanish before reaching the moment of the wholesome deed of noting. The meditator who has advanced to the stage of bhaṅga ñāṇa knows this phenomenon clearly as it is. When the meditator feels glad over an act of charity, he should note, "glad, glad". When noted in this way, the meditator who has reached the stage of bhañga ñāṇa sees clearly the volitional formations of the wholesome deed of contemplating on charity vanish before reaching the moment of noting. In addition, when random thought arises while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, it should be noted. When thus noted, the volitional formation of noting, the rise and fall vanishes without reaching thc moment of arising of the random thought; the volitional formation of random thought also vanishes without reaching the moment of reaching it as a random thought. In this manner, the meditator perceives each and every volitional formation perishing before it reaches the moment of arising of another volitional formation. If the meditator does not perceive the phenomena in the way described, it must be said that he has not yet reached the stage of development of that type of ñāṇa.
Volitional formations of thoughts arising from distant objects do not reach the moment of thoughts on near objects, and vice versa. They all vanish at the respective moments of their arising and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and not-self.
ELEVENFOLD ANALYSIS OF MIND OR CONSCIOUSNESS
The Blessed One said:
Yaṁ kiñci viññāṇaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁ ajjhattaṁ vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikaṁ vā sukhumaṁ vā hīnaṁ vā paṇītaṁ vā yandūre santike vā sabbaṁ viññāṇaṁ netaṁ mama neso hamasmi na meso attāti evametaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ.
"All consciousness, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or superior, far or near, should be seen with one's own knowledge, as it truly is, thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self'."
This is the instruction to analyze consciousness under eleven heads so as to clarify its impermanent, suffering and not-self nature.
In Chapter VI it was explained that contemplating on impermanence is the same as contemplating on "this I am not," contemplating on suffering is the same as contemplating on "this is not mine" and contemplating on not-self is the same as contemplating on "this is not myself."
Of the four mental aggregates, viññāna, conscious-ness or mind, is the most prominent. Mental concomitants, such as desire and hatred, are described as "mind" in everyday language: "desiring mind," "liking mind," "hating mind." In the Commentaries, too, expositions are given first in mind, then only are they followed by the mental concomitants. Here also we propose to elaborate on mind to a considerable extent.
Past consciousness may be the mind of previous lives; it may also be the mind which occurred during younger days or which happened in all the intervening days, months or years since then. Even today, there was the mind which arose prior to the present moment. Amongst all these possible types of past consciousness, it should be very obvious that the mind of the past existences has not come over to the present life, that it ceased in those existences. But for those with strong attachments to self, it is not easy for such knowledge and understanding to arise, because they hold to the view that viññāṇa, consciousness, is a soul or self, a living entity. According to them, when the old body of past existences breaks up and perishes, the viññāṇa leaves it and transmigrates to a new body, where it remains from conception in the mother's womb till the time of death, when it again leaves to a fresh body in a new existence. This belief has been fully described in the story of Sāti in Chapter IV.
THE REBIRTH PROCESS
As meditators experience for themselves, mind does not last even for a second; it is incessantly arising and vanishing. How it arises and vanishes has also been described in the discussion on the processes of cognition. As explained there, for each existence, at the approach of death, maraṇasaññā vithī consciousness (the mental process at death) arises , with kamma, kamma-sign (kamma-nimitta) or destination-sign (gati-nimitta) as object. This is how it arises: from the life continuum consciousness (bhavaṅga) arises the sense door consciousness, the āvajjana citta, which apprehends sensations. This citta reflects on a good or bad action performed during one's lifetime (kamma), or a sign or symbol associated with that action (kamma-nimitta), or a symbol of the place in which one is destined to be reborn (gati-nimitta). After this citta has ceased, the active consciousness, javana, holding on to that object, arises five times. At the cessation of javana consciousness, holding on to the same object, the registering consciousness of tadālambana happens for two thought moments, at the end of which bhavaṅga consciousness appears, lasting for one or two thought moments. After that, the consciousness or mind comes to termination for that particular existence and the last bhavaṅga citta is known as cuti citta, death consciousness.
As soon as the cuti citta ceases, depending on the wholesome or unwholesome kamma which manifested at death's door, and the objects that appeared just prior to death, the new consciousness arises in a new existence. This consciousness is called the re-linking consciousness (paṭisandhi citta), because it forms a link with the past existence. As this paṭisandhi citta ceases, a series of bhavaṅga citta arises. When sense objects such as sights and sounds present themselves at the sense doors, the series of bhavaṅga citta ceases and sense door consciousness followed by sense consciousness, such as eye consciousness or ear consciousness, arises. This is actually what is happening when you see or hear. According to this process, mind appears one by one in a continuous series, each fresh mind (citta) arising then vanishing. The cuti citta of the last existence ceased then and there. The consciousness of the present life is a new one, arisen afresh, conditioned by previous kamma. Every citta is a fresh arising, not a renewal of the old one. Thus the meditator who watches the phenomena of rise and fall takes note of a thought as it appears. When thus noted, the thought or the thinking mind at once disappears. Perceiving this phenomenon, the meditator concludes that death means the termination of the continuity of mind after the last cuti citta has ceased. Similarly, new becoming means the first arising of a fresh series of cittas in a new place in a new existence, just as the present mind arises afresh all the time. Bhavaṅga citta is the continuous arising, depending on kammic force, of similar fresh mind, starting with the very first mind at the moment of conception. The mind which knows the phenomenon of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking arises afresh from the life continuum consciousness. In this way the meditator knows how mind arises and perishes and from this personal experience he can infer about the death consciousness, cuti citta, and re-tinking consciousness, paṭisandhi citta.
THE LAW OF DEPENDENT ORIGINATION
To know that fresh mind arises conditioned by kamma is to know the Law of Dependent Origination through the knowledge of rounds of kamma and kamma result. Thus we find in the Visuddhimagga: "Having discerned the conditions of corporeal and mental properties in this way (that there is no doer, nor one who reaps the deed's results, just phenomena proceeding according to cause and effect) by means of the rounds of kamma and kamma result, and having abandoned uncertainty (‘Is there soul, self?' ‘Why has self arisen?', etc.) about the three periods of time, then all past, future and present dhammas are understood by him in accordance with knowledge of death and the rebirth linking processes."
Here, in this manner of discernment, "by means of the round of kamma" includes causes such as ignorance (avijjā), craving (taṇhā), clinging (upādāna) and volitional formations (saṅkhāra). In addition, by discerning the first rebirth linking consciousness and the last death consciousness, all the consciousnesses that have arisen in between in the course of one existence become known. Also, by knowing all the consciousnesses with respect to the present life, the consciousnesses with respect to the past and future existences can also be discerned. Knowing the mind is knowing the mental concomitants that accompany the mind and also the material base on which mind is dependent. Therefore the Visuddhimagga says, "all past, future and present dhammas are understood by him".
CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE THREE TIME PERIODS
As the meditator knows in this way that starting from rebirth consciousness a continuous series of mind (moments) arises and vanishes, it is clear to him that the mind of previous existences ceased then and there and does not reach this existence. It is clear also that the minds of the present existence cease at the respective moments of their becoming. Therefore the meditator is in a position to discern all past, future and present minds with his personal knowledge.
To the meditator, if thoughts arise while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, he notes the fact thus, "thinking, thinking." In this way the thoughts vanish. When he hears, he notes, "hearing, hearing" and the ear consciousness instantly disappears. He does not think, as ordinary people do, that he keeps on hearing for a long time. He finds that he hears intermittently -- hearing, disappearing, hearing, disappearing -- the ear consciousness vanishing in successive instants.
Likewise when noting touch consciousness, it is seen to quickly disappear. When concentration is specially strong, the eye consciousness can be seen arising and vanishing in quick succession. Nose consciousness and taste consciousness should be considered in the same way. The noting mind is also perceived to be alternately noting and disappearing. In short, with every noting, both the object noted and the knowing mind are seen arising and vanishing. To the meditator who is seeing clearly in this way, eye consciousness does not reach the moment of noting, thinking or hearing, it vanishes at the instant of seeing. He realizes it is impermanent. Similarly, noting mind, thinking mind, and hearing mind do not reach the moments of seeing, they disappear at the respective moments of noting, thinking and hearing. Hence, the meditator realizes they are impermanent:
1. The eye consciousness, ear consciousness, touch consciousness and thinking mind which appeared moments ago do not reach the present moments of seeing, hearing, touching and thinking. They passed away and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not-self.
2. The eye consciousness, ear consciousness, touch consciousness and thought consciousness which are presently arising do not reach the next moment of seeing, hearing, touching and thinking. They cease now and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not-self.
3. The eye consciousness, ear consciousness, touch consciousness and thought consciousness which will arise in the future will not reach the moment next to that future instant. They will perish and are therefore impermanent, suffering and not-self.
Knowing personally in this way how consciousness arises and vanishes in one's body, it can be inferred that, just like the consciousness which has been noted, all the consciousnesses which remain to be noted, consciousnesses in other people and in the whole world, are arising and vanishing.
We have considered all types of consciousness, but there remains consideration of consciousness from other aspects, such as internally and externally.
The consciousness which already has an internal object does not reach an external object; the consciousness which has external object does not reach an internal object. While being fixed on the respective objects, consciousness ceases and is therefore impermanent, suffering and not-self.
Angry mind is coarse; other types of mind are fine in comparison. Among angry minds, those which are violent enough to cause murder, torture, destruction to other's properties, or abusive, threatening language are coarse; ordinary irritated mind is fine, subtle. Greedy mind is soft compared to angry mind, but the greedy mind which is intense enough to cause stealing or wrong acts, or low, vulgar language is coarse. Ordinary desire or wish is fine. Deluded mind is mild compared to the greedy mind or the angry mind, but the deluded mind which finds fault with and shows disrespect to the true Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha is coarse. Ordinary doubting mind and scattered mind are subtle. More subtle than all these unwholesome minds are the wholesome minds, and amongst the wholesome minds, gladness and rapture are coarse, while the mind which is unmoving and concentrated is fine.
The meditator who is engaged in constant noting perceives the arising and vanishing of coarse as well as fine minds-that the coarse mind does not reach the moment of arising of a fine mind, and the fine mind does not reach the moment of arising of the coarse mind. They vanish at the respective moments of their arising.
CONTEMPLATION ON MIND ACCORDING TO THE SATIPAṬṬHĀNA SUTTA
While the meditator is contemplating the rise and fall of the abdomen, if the mind arises with lust, he notes it as mind with lust. This is knowing the mind with lust as it truly is -- sa rāgaṁ vā cittaṁ sa rāgaṁ cittanti pajānāti -- in accordance with the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. When noted thus, the mind with lust ceases and is followed by a continuous stream of mind made up of the kusala (wholesome) citta of noting and the active (kiriyā), resultant (vipāka) and skillful impulse (kusala javana) minds (citta) which are concerned with mundane acts of seeing, hearing and so on. These wholesome, active and resultant minds are noted as they arise in seeing, hearing, touching and knowing. This is knowing the mind without lust, wholesome, active, resultant and neutral cittas, as it truly is, in accordance with the vītarāgaṁ vā cittaṁ vītarāgaṁ cittanti pajānāti of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. Noting and knowing the mind with lust as well as the mind without lust in this manner is contemplation of the mind with mindfulness.
I would like to touch upon the exposition given in the Commentary. The Commentary defines the mind with lust as eight kinds of consciousness accompanied by greed. This is the enumeration of lustful minds. Thus if the mind is lustful, it must be one of the eight kinds of consciousness rooted in attachment. However, just to consider that the occurrence of eight kinds of consciousness rooted in attachment is known as sarāga, mind with lust, does not amount to the contemplation on mind with mindfulness.
Further, vītarāga, mind without lust, is defined as mundane wholesome mind, and neutral mind. The Commentary states that because supramundane citta is the object for consideration by insight knowledge (vipassanā ñāṇa), it is not classified as vītarāgaṁ, mind without lust, vītadosa, mind without ill-will or vītamoha, mind without delusion.
Likewise, neither of the two kinds of consciousness rooted in ill-will and the two rooted in delusion is classified as mind without lust.
At one time, before I had any knowledge of meditation, I was assailed by doubt as to why the consciousness rooted in ill-will and that rooted in delusion were not classified as mind without lust. Only when I had acquired knowledge through meditation practice did I understand just how natural and right the Commentary exposition was. When the mind with lust is noted, it at once ceases and in its place arise only wholesome, active, resultant and neutral cittas; it is not usual for ill-will and delusion to arise then. Therefore at that time only the wholesome citta which is involved in noting or the neutral resultant (vipāka abyākata), neutral averting (āvajjana abyākata) cittas involved in acts of sense awareness and the skilful impulse citta are contemplated.
Thus the definition of vītarāga, mind without lust, as neutral wholesome (kusala abyākata) citta is very natural and is in keeping with what meditators find in their personal experience.
When ill-will arises in the course of noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, it has to be noted. The ill-will vanishes at once and in its place there arises the wholesome citta of the act of noting the neutral and wholesome impulse cittas of the acts of seeing and so on. The meditator knows this mind without ill-will by noting it too. When the mind with delusion, that is, doubtful or distracted mind, appears, they are noted as usual and they disappear. In their place arise the wholesome citta of the act of noting, and the neutral and wholesome impulse cittas of the acts of seeing. The meditator knows this mind without delusion, vītamoha, by noting.
Further, when sloth and torpor arise during noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, these have to be noted as "sloth," "torpor." They vanish at once and mindfulness arises in their place. This is noted by the meditator before he reverts to noting the rise and fall of the abdomen.
Again, while noting the rise and fall of the abdomen, if distraction and restlessness appear, they are noted as "distraction," "restlessness." When noted thus, restlessness disappears, the mind remains still and tranquil. This state of mind is also to be noted.
When the concentration is good, and the mind rests on the object under contemplation, this quiet mind is also known automatically. When restlessness appears, it is then noted and the mind becomes still again. All these changes in the state of mind are heedfully noted. A mind which is noted and contemplated on is said to be vimutta, free of defilements. A mind which remains to be noted and contemplated upon is avimutta, not free of defilements. The meditator takes note of all these states of mind.
This is how mind is contemplated as taught by the Blessed One in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. According to this practice, minds with lust and desire, ill-will, distraction, and restlessness are all of the coarse variety. When free of those coarse minds, there arise in their place wholesome and neutral cittas, which are fine minds. Therefore, the meditator engaged in watching phenomena as they take place perceives that the coarse mind does not reach the moment of fine mind and so on. They vanish at the respective moments of their arising and are impermanent, suffering and not-self.
The classification of mind according to inferior and superior status is similar to the classification of inferior and superior volitional formations. The inferior unwholesome citta does not reach the moment of arising of wholesome neutral citta; the superior wholesome mind also does not reach the moment of arising of the inferior unwholesome citta. They cease at the moments of their respective arising and are, therefore, impermanent, suffering and not-self. The wholesome citta of generosity does not reach the moment of arising of wholesome citta of moral precepts or of meditation. The wholesome citta of moral precepts does not reach the moment of arising of wholesome citta of meditation, and vice versa. The concentration meditation citta does not reach the moment of insight meditation; the insight meditation citta does not reach the moment of concentration meditation. They all cease and pass away at the respective moments of their arising.
The ordinary person not used to noting the phenomena of sensory awareness thinks that when he looks from a distant object to a near one, the mind which sees the distant object comes closer to him. When he looks from a near object to a distant one, he thinks the mind has gone away to a distance.
Similarly when hearing a nearby sound while listening to a distant sound, it is presumed that the mind which listened to the distant sound has moved nearer; when hearing a distant sound while listening to a nearby sound, it is presumed that the mind which hears the nearby sound has moved away to a distance. When, while smelling a distant smell, an internal odor is smelt, it is thought that the mind from afar has come nearer. When, while smelling the odor of one's body, an odor from outside is smelt, the mind which is nearby appears to have gone afar.
While tactile sensation is being felt at a distance, for instance, on the feet, and another tactile sensation is felt on one's breast, the distant sensation appears to have moved closer, and vice versa. While thinking of a distant object, one thinks of a nearby object and it appears that the distant mind has come nearer, and vice versa. In short, it is the general belief that there is only one permanent mind which knows everything near and far.
The meditator who notes every phenomenon of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking knows with his own knowledge that the mind from afar does not come nearer; the near mind does not go afar. At respective moments of arising, they cease and pass away.
See also: Vietnamese Translation
Source: Sakyamuni Meditation Center, California, U.S.A.