The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Lal
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Repeating bad translations would not be beneficial to others. Pick a bullet number for any of my posts and explain why it is wrong.
auto
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto »

Lal wrote: Tue Sep 07, 2021 5:48 pm Repeating bad translations would not be beneficial to others. Pick a bullet number for any of my posts and explain why it is wrong.
I don't say you are wrong. I'm just comparing notes. Commenting.
Lal
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Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2016 11:39 am

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Anatta is a Characteristic of the World, not About a "Self"

Anatta is a characteristic of this world, not about a "self." The translation of anatta as "no-self" is a serious error. Instead, it is Sakkāya Diṭṭhi that deals with the issue of whether anything in this world can be/should be considered to be "mine."

The Sense of a “Me” Is There Even Though There is no “Soul”

1. It is difficult to decide whether the word “self” means just a “sense of me” or a deeper “soul.”

- That is why it is best to avoid using “self” in discussing “anatta/anattā.”
- The Buddha denied a “soul” in Abrahamic religions or an "ātman" as in Hinduism. But he taught that the sense of a “me” is real and WILL BE THERE until one attains the Arahanthood.
- To avoid confusion, let us not use the word “self.” We will use "me" for the "temporary self" and "soul" for an "everlasting self." The Buddha accepted the use of a temporary "me" but denied the existence of a permanent "soul/ātman."
- Now we all understand that “me” is DIFFERENT from a “soul.” If someone thinks that “self” is the same as “soul” then the Buddha denied the existence of such a “self.”
- I hope this point is crystal clear. Otherwise, we can get into many arguments wasting precious time.

Even the Buddha Used the Word "Me"

2. As long as one lives in this world, it will be impossible not to use the words "me" and "I."

- Even the Buddha freely used the words "me" and "I" daily and even referred to previous births. He has given accounts of "his" previous lives. Such usage is not possible to avoid.
- Furthermore, even a living Arahant, for example, would have his/her own habits. Of course, they would not have any habits even remotely related to lobha, dosa, moha
- For example, Ven. Moggalana was a bit strict. One time he dragged a bhikkhu out of a gathering. Ven. Pilindavaccha addressed others with words like "vasala" ("one of low birth") which was not due to anger but because of the way he was used to speaking.As long as one lives in this world, there are unique characteristics regarding physical appearance and how one speaks and thinks.
- This is why the Buddha rejected both extreme views:
(i) It is not correct to say that someone does not exist, since obviously a person is living and doing things in his/her own way.
(ii) It is also not correct to associate a "permanent soul" with any person. A "living-being" exists due to causes and conditions (Paṭicca Samuppāda) and will cease to be reborn in this suffering-filled world when avijjā is removed.
- However, the concept of anatta is not about a temporary or permanent "self." It is a characteristic of anything in this world (rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, viññāṇa.)

Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta - Three Characteristics

3. In recent posts, I cited many Tipiṭaka references that clearly state anicca, dukkha, anatta are 3 CHARACTERISTICS of this world. See, "Tilakkhana – Introduction."

- Furthermore, those 3 characteristics are related to each other via, "Yad aniccaṁ taṁ dukkhaṁ; yaṁ dukkhaṁ tad anattā." 
- The above verse says that anything that belongs to this world (rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, viññāṇa) are ALL of anicca nature, and thus has dukkha nature; whatever is of dukkha nature has anatta nature.
- If one attaches to things of anicca nature, one will be subjected to dukkha. Because of that, ALL worldly things are not fruitful (anattā.)
- It should be quite clear that anatta/anattā is NOT about a "self" or "me."

4. That is succinctly stated in the verse, "Rūpaṁ (vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, viññāṇa) atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁaniccaṁ khayaṭṭhena dukkhaṁ bhayaṭṭhena anattā asārakaṭṭhenāti."

Translation: “Any rupa ( or vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, viññāṇa) that ever existed will exist in the future, or that is being experienced now has the following 3 characteristics: Any such rupa is of anicca nature because one’s hopes for enjoying rupa will only lead to one’s demise (“aniccaṁ khayaṭṭhena.”) It will eventually lead to sufferings that one should be afraid of (“dukkhaṁ bhayaṭṭhena.”) Therefore, such cravings are unfruitful and will make one helpless in the rebirth process (“anattā asārakaṭṭhenāti.”)

- We discussed that in a recent post: "Buddha Dhamma – Noble Truths, Paṭicca Samuppāda, Tilakkhana."

5. From the above verse, it is quite clear that anatta is a characteristic of not only our physical body, but ANY rupa existing now, ever existed, or will exist in the future! That means anatta is a characteristic of the rupa aggregate (rupakkhandha.)

- Furthermore, as explained in that post, the anatta characteristic applies to all 5 five aggregates. As we have discussed, the five aggregates encompass “the whole world.”
- Thus, anything in this world has the anatta characteristic!
- How can these translators say "anatta" means "no-self"? 
- It is alarming to see the efforts in Sri Lanka to ban any interpretation of "anatta" other than  "no-self." See, "Proposed Tipiṭaka Conservation Bill in Sri Lanka."

Simple Examples

6. Little children take immense satisfaction and joy building sandcastles. They spend hours building them and enjoy looking at the finished product.

- However, their joy turns to sadness if a strong wave or a running dog destroys that sandcastle. They may even go home happily but would be sad to see their sandcastle destroyed when they come back the next day.
- This is why adults don’t build sandcastles. As that same child grows, understanding slowly takes place that “building sandcastles is a waste of time” even though a “pleasurable activity.”
- Yet, fully grown and intelligent adults do the same all their lives. They work tirelessly in hopes of a better life. But only at the moment of death do they realize that all those efforts have gone to waste. Furthermore, if they had cultivated an “immoral mindset” by engaging in immoral thoughts and activities, they are not only going to be disappointed but could be subjected to much suffering in future lives.
- A sandcastle is of anicca nature. Getting attached to it is inevitably going to lead to disappointment (dukkha). Thus engaging in that activity is unfruitful and non-beneficial to anyone (anatta.)

7. However, anatta nature means unfruitful (as in the above example) and dangerous.

- An alcoholic consumes alcohol because it gives him pleasure. But he has not comprehended that heavy drinking can lead to sicknesses and even death.
- Therefore, heavy consumption of alcohol is of anicca nature. It will lead to dukkha (suffering). Therefore, that activity is of an anatta nature.

The Same Principle Applies to All Sense-Pleasing Activities

8. It is hard to believe first, but craving sensory pleasures is not unlike craving alcohol!

- The truth of the above statement can be seen only within the long-term rebirth process.  This is why it is difficult for many people to understand the deeper aspects of Buddha Dhamma about suffering. In particular immoral activities seeking short-term pleasures WILL lead to much suffering in future rebirths.
- We discussed the example of #6 above in "How Does Anicca Nature Lead to Dukkha?"  As explained there, all five aggregates (rupa, vedanā, saññā, saṅ­khāra, vinnana) are of anicca nature. Therefore, per #3 above, all five aggregates are of the anatta nature too! 
- That is specifically stated in the "Yadanattā Sutta (SN 22.17)": “Rūpaṁ, bhikkhave, anattā..Vedanā anattā ..saññā anattā …saṅkhārā anattā …viññāṇaṁ anattā."
- That is why NONE of the things in this world (rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, viññāṇa) can be considered beneficial.

9. Here, it is important to realize that we accumulate kammā (more correctly kammic energies) not only by our actions but also with speech and even thoughts (via kāya, vaci, and mano saṅ­khāra.) See, "Saṅkhāra – What It Really Means"

- Furthermore, such kamma accumulation can be based on recalling past events or thinking about future events.
- And all those involve not only rupa but associated vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, viññāṇa. For example, one may recall a good time with friends in the past. That means he would recall who was present and what types of activities he enjoyed, and associated mental aspects.
- That is why the Buddha always referred to aggregates. For example, as we discussed, rupakkhandha includes not only physical rupa but also our mental impressions of past and future rupa. Similarly for vedanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, viññāṇakkhandha.  
- Therefore, in #8 above, “Rūpaṁ, bhikkhave, anattā" means any rupa experienced in the past, experiencing now, or expected to experience in the future are ALL of anatta nature. 

Summary

10. The concept of anatta is not about personality, a self, or a "me."

- Anicca, dukkha, anatta are characteristics of anything belonging to this world.  Thus, anatta nature applies to anything of this world!
- If anyone can present evidence to the contrary from the Tipiṭaka, I welcome such a discussion.
Lal
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Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2016 11:39 am

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Anatta in Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta - Part 1

Introduction

1. Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta (SN 22.59) (https://suttacentral.net/sn22.59/pli/ms) was the second sutta delivered by the Buddha after his Enlightenment (attaining the Buddhahood.) The first two suttas were delivered to the famous five ascetics. The first one, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11) -- delivered and discussed over several days -- led to all five ascetics attaining the Sotapanna stage.

- Then the Buddha delivered the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta to the same five ascetics and they all attained the Arahanthood.
- In the previous post, I explained that anatta is a characteristic of the world of 31 realms and not about a "self." See, "Anatta is a Characteristic of the World, not About a “Self”
- Here we will discuss the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, which is specifically about that "characteristic of anatta" or "anatta lakkhaṇa." As we know, lakkhaṇa means "a characteristic."

Outline of the Sutta

2. If you look at the first half of the sutta, it points out the anatta nature of rupa, vedanā, saññā, sañkhāra, viññāṇa, or the five aggregates (pañcakkhandha.)

- In that first part, the Buddha points out that those aggregates CANNOT be under one's control. They evolve according to paṭicca Samuppāda.
- In the second part of the sutta (starting with the verse, "Taṁ kiṁ maññatha, bhikkhave, rūpaṁ niccaṁ vā aniccaṁ vā'ti?" the points out the reasons why they cannot be under one's control. The key reason is that all five aggregates have the anicca nature, i.e., they evolve according to nature's laws and NOT according to one's wishes or hopes. As we have discussed, anicca nature leads to dukkha, and that is why all efforts to "get control" will not be successful and one will lose control and become helpless (anattā): “Yad aniccaṁ taṁ dukkhaṁ; yaṁ dukkhaṁ tad anattā.” 
- The final third part of the sutta starting with the verse, "Evaṁ passaṁ, bhikkhave, sutavā ariyasāvako rūpasmimpi nibbindati, .." states the conclusion: A Noble Person (Ariya Sāvaka) who comprehends the above two facts about the nature of this world would not crave those five aggregates (nibbindati). Once that wisdom (paññā) takes hold in a mind, that mind is liberated. That mind will NOT grasp (upādāna) anything in this world and thus the rebirth process will cease and one will merge with Nibbāna at the death of the physical body.
- To get the full impact of the sutta, we need to fully understand what are meant by those five aggregates (pañcakkhandha.)

What Is an Aggregate (Khadha)?

3. Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta (SN 22.59) is one of 159 suttas in the Khandha Samyutta (SN 22.) All those suttas are about or related to the five aggregates or collections (pañca khandha which rhymes as pañcakkhandha.)

- What is a khandha or a collection/aggregate? That is clarified in one of those 159 suttas in the Khandha Samyutta, the "Khandha Sutta (SN 22. 48)" https://suttacentral.net/sn22.48/pli/ms

- "Katame ca, bhikkhave, pañcakkhandhā?" OR "Bhikkhus, what are the five aggregates?"

- "Yaṁ kiñci, bhikkhave, rūpaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁ ajjhattaṁ vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikaṁ vā sukhumaṁ vā hīnaṁ vā paṇītaṁ vā yaṁ dūre santike vā, ayaṁ vuccati rūpakkhandho" OR "Bhikkhus, the rupa aggregate consists of the following 11 types of rupa: past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near. This is called the rupa aggregate.

- The other four aggregates have the same 11 types. For example, the viññāṇa aggregate has the same 11 types: past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near.

Five Aggregates Encompass the Whole World!

4. As we can see from the definition of the rupa aggregate, for example, it includes any rupa that one has ever seen, one is seeing now and expects to see in the future. Those are the 3 main categories. Those can be put in one or more of the other 8 categories as well.

- For example, suppose I saw the World Center Towers before their destruction in the terrorist attack in 2011. Those towers are in my rupakkhandha. Of course, those towers physically do not exist now. But my rupakkhandha has their "mental impressions." That is why I can recall how they looked when they existed.
- But if another person had not seen those towers before their destruction, they are not in that person's rupakkhandha. One's pañcakkhandha are one's own! It is really one's own world.
- Furthermore, any type of vedanā that I experienced looking at those towers are in my vedanāṇakkhandha. My recognition of them as "World Center Towers" is in my saññākkhandha. Any types of sañkhāra that my mind generated while looking at the Towers are in my saṅkhārakkhandha and any types of viññāṇa that arose are in my viññāṇakkhandha.
- Therefore, most of the five aggregates consist of one's past experiences. As we know, there is no discernible beginning to each of our "lifestreams." We have been going through an infinite number of rebirths in our past. The present moment goes into the past within a blink of an eye. Future rupa, vedanā, etc. are associated with our expectations/hopes.
- Please take time and think about the above. There is a lot of information there. It is critical to understand these fundamentals.
- I have discussed these concepts in "The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha)."

Role of Pañcakkhandha in a Sensory Event

6. When we are attracted to a sensory event that involves not only the rupa one is experiencing at that moment, but also one's memories about similar rupa experienced in the past, and one's hopes for experiencing similar rupa in the future as well.

- That is better explained with an example. Suppose person X meets a person Y on the street. Suppose X is an enemy of Y and the moment X sees Y thoughts of anger arise in his mind.
- But to trigger anger in X, he must first realize that Y is his enemy. For that to happen, his mind must have instantly recalled past events involving Y. Therefore, that sensory event of “seeing Y” involved recalling past events with not only Y’s figure (rupa) but also types of mental factors (vedanā, saññā, sañkhāra, viññāṇa) associated with some “bad encounters with Y” in the past.
- That is why capturing a “snapshot” of Y (like with a camera) is not enough. The mind MUST recall previous encounters with Y, and those are in pañcakkhandha! In other words, those cittas not only “see” Y, but also incorporate previous sights of Y AND associated vedanā, saññā, sañkhāra, viññāṇa.
- Now, based on the sight of Y, X has generated anger and has "gotten attached" to that sight of Y. Therefore, sensory information associated with 'seeing Y" is now in X's pañcupādānakkhandhā!

Khandha Sutta Also Defines Pañcupādānakkhandhā ("Five Grasping Aggregates")

7. At the latter part of the Khandha Sutta defines pañcupādānakkhandhā, conventionally translated as "the five grasping (or clinging) aggregates."

- "Katame ca, bhikkhave, pañcupādānakkhandhā?" OR "bhikkhus, what are the five grasping aggregates?

- "Yaṁ kiñci, bhikkhave, rūpaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁ …pe… yaṁ dūre santikesāsavaṁ upādāniyaṁ, ayaṁ vuccati rūpupādānakkhandho" OR "Whatever kind of rupa there is, whether past, future or present … far or near, that can induce āsava (sāsavaṁ), that can induce attachment (upādāniyaṁ): this is called the rūpupādānakkhandha.

How Do We Attach to Past and Future Rupa (Vedanā, Saññā, Sañkhāra, Viññāṇa)?

8. Now someone may ask the question: "How do we attach to past and future rupa? I thought we attach to the rupa that we are seeing, hearing, etc. at this moment."

- That is a CRITICAL point to understand. We do attach to a given rupa that we are experiencing at the present. However, that attachment is based on especially the past rupa and even future rupa of similar type (that we have thought about). 
- In an example, when we see a friend, that cannot be compared to just taking a snapshot. We not only “see” but also recognize who it is and generate certain feelings about him. All that happens in a split second. That very fast process involves all five aggregates (pañcakkhandha.)

9. Let us take another example. Suppose person X meets a person Y on the street. Suppose Y is an enemy of X and the moment X sees Y thoughts of anger arise in his mind.

- But to trigger anger in X, he must first realize that Y is his enemy. But for that to happen, his mind must have recalled past events involving Y. Therefore, that sensory event of “seeing Y” involved recalling past events with not only Y’s figure (rupa) but also types of mental factors (vedanā, saññā, sañkhāra, viññāṇa) associated with some “bad encounters with Y” in the past.
- That is why capturing a “snapshot” of Y (like with a camera) is not enough. The mind MUST recall previous encounters with Y, and those are in pañcakkhandha! In other words, those cittas not only “see” Y, but also incorporate previous sights of Y AND associated vedanā, saññā, sañkhāra, viññāṇa.
- The "past component" of pañcakkhandha is the same as nāmagotta or our memories. Even though we cannot recall nāmagotta from the distant past, we can recall nāmagotta of significant events from this life easily.
- I have discussed this issue with examples in the post, “The Amazing Mind – Critical Role of Nāmagotta (Memories).” I will post this here in a few days.

Our Attachments Are Based on Our Habits/Character (Gati)

10. There is another way to understand the above point. Each person has his/her set of cravings/attachments. The Pali word to represent this idea is "gati" (pronounced "gathi.") Gati are also related to āsava and anusaya

- For example, X may be attracted to a type of woman that Y may not be attracted to. X may really like to eat chocolates, but Y may not. Each of us has a set of gati that have evolved over time, most times going back to recent previous lives. There are neutral gati (like being left-handed) and also immoral gati (like the tendency to become angry) and moral gati (like being kind).
- I have discussed this issue at length in many posts, including how gati are related to āsava/anusaya. See, "Search Results for: gati gathi āsava": https://puredhamma.net/?s=gati+gathi+asava
- It is important to read and understand some of those posts. Then you will see why the Buddha explained rūpupādānakkhandha in terms of āsava and upādāna:, "Yaṁ kiñci, bhikkhave, rūpaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁ …pe… yaṁ dūre santike vā sāsavaṁ upādāniyaṁ, ayaṁ vuccati rūpupādānakkhandho"
- As I keep emphasizing, one must be prepared to spend time to understand these basic issues. Just reading mindless word-by-word translations are of no benefit. 
- Just reading these posts will also not be good enough. These posts will provide the necessary material to make progress. However, it will take a significant effort even for those who are interested. I am willing to answer questions to the best of my ability.

Summary

11. In this post, we have discussed two critical concepts needed to understand the content of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.

- Pancakkhandha (five aggregates) includes records of our deep past even if we remember mostly the significant events in this life. However, it is possible to cultivate jhāna and to recall past lives. Some small children can recall their previous life (if it was a human life).
- Pañcupādānakkhandhā (five "grasping" aggregates) represents our gati/anusaya/āsava that have evolved over our past lives. We have the ability to change our pañcupādānakkhandhā or the types of attachments (that arise out of greed, anger, and most importantly ignorance of Tilakkhana/Patica Samuppāda/Noble Truths.) 
- Now we have sufficient background to understand the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta. We will finish the discussion in the next post.
- The sutta basically says that our struggles to seek a permanent solution to suffering within this world are in vain. That is the anatta nature. Once one starts understanding that, one will start losing big chunks of upādāna in pañcupādānakkhandhā. After the Arahant stage, there will be no trace of pañcupādānakkhandhā. Thus, only a living Arahant will be free of all defilements. He/she has fully understood the anatta (and of course anicca and dukkha) nature.
Lal
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Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2016 11:39 am

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

A mind is constantly interacting with pañcakkhandha and also constantly adding to the pañcakkhandha. Pañcakkhandha becomes panca upādāna khandha (pañcupādānakkhandha) when the mind attaches to an ārammaṇa based on gati (character/habits). That initial "attachment" happens within a billionth of a second. But if we are mindful, we can stop that "attachment" when it is leading to unwise actions. That will slowly change our gati. That will lead to better responses to various types of ārammaṇa over time. That is the basis of true Ānāpānasati/Satipaṭṭhāna.
- Of course, practicing Ānāpānasati/Satipaṭṭhāna becomes easier with a true understanding of the anatta nature. Then the mind will wee the unfruitfulness of especially immoral deeds seeking temporary pleasures.

The Amazing Mind – Critical Role of Nāmagotta (Memories)

Nāmagotta (Part of Pañcakkhandha) Are Memories

1. Here, we will discuss the critical importance of nāmagotta (our memory records). This discussion will be helpful in understanding the post, “Anatta in Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta – Part 1.”

- It is important to note that “nāmagotta” has records of all our past events. As we know, each aggregate (khandha) includes all past events. For example, rupakkhandha includes the rupa we are experiencing now and all past rupa we have experienced. See, “Difference Between Physical Rūpa and Rūpakkhandha.” That holds for the other four aggregates too. Thus, nāmagotta consists of the “past components of pañcakkhandha.”
- Let us take person X. If someone shows X an apple, he will say, “that is an apple, and I know how it smells and tastes.” Suppose X loses all memory right after that. Now, will X be able to identify that as an apple? Of course not.
- That is another amazing thing about the mind. It can search one’s previous experiences with a given object (in this case, an apple) and remember what an apple looks like, tastes like, etc., i.e., all the distinctive properties of an apple. And it can do that in a billionth of a second!
- We discussed this in detail: “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)” posted on Sep 18, 2018: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=450

Without Memories, There Would Only Be a Zombie (or a Robot)

2. Think carefully about the following. If X loses all memories, he will not know what to do with a plate of food put in front of him; he would not identify that as a pizza, a sandwich, etc.

- X will not know how to go home if he is at work when memory loss happens. X would not know even what is meant by “home” and that he is supposed to go home at a particular time.
- If he gets the urge to go to the bathroom, X will not know where the bathroom is.
- You can think about the zillions of things that we take for granted every day that X will not be able to do. X will not be able to function at all!

3. That is why a baby of a few months of age does not recognize anything and does not have any control over “bathroom functions.”

- A baby’s brain is not developed and thus cannot make contact with the mano loka, where memories are; see, “Namagotta, Bhava, Kamma Bīja, and Mano Loka (Mind Plane)” and “Recent Evidence for Unbroken Memory Records (HSAM).” These posts can be found at puredhamma.net. Type relevant keywords in the "Search" box on the top right. (By the way, I keep updating posts, so some old posts at Dhamma Wheel may be updated at puredhamma.net.)
- Thus a baby is TOTALLY dependent on parents until about a year old until the brain develops to some extent.
- The manasikara cetasika helps put together memories based on the “rupa” received from the brain.

Perception or Identification (Saññā) Requires Memories

4. Now, suppose that person X, who has lost all his memories, takes a bite of the apple. Of course, he will taste the sweetness, but he will not be able to IDENTIFY that as “apple taste.”

- Furthermore, X may not even generate a liking or the desire to take another bite unless he is hungry.
- That also proves that the CRAVING for the taste of apple was not in the apple. Cravings are associated with one’s āsava. And those āsava cannot manifest unless one’s memories are intact and hidden anusaya can be triggered.

5. With his memories lost, X’s vēdanā and saññā will be pretty close to “uncontaminated” pabhassara citta. He will experience a taste (without identifying it as a taste of apple). But he will not generate any sōbhana or asōbhana cetasika based on any type of attractive or repulsive sense input.

- But of course, he has not attained the Arahant stage. His āsava will be with him, just as a newborn baby will have all its āsava with it.
- If X lost his memory due to brain damage, his āsava would not resurface until the next birth if the brain is permanently damaged.
Details at “Gati (Gati), Anusaya, and Āsava.” Many examples are discussed in, "Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory":https://puredhamma.net/dhamma/buddha-dh ... nd-memory/

The Account of Patient H.M.

6. That has happened to a person, and his story is in the book “Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets” by Luke Dittrich.

- Here we must remember that our memories are in the nāma lōka and can be recalled only by the mana indriya in the brain. See, “Namagotta, Bhava, Kamma Bīja, and Mano Loka (Mind Plane),” “Memory, Brain, Mind, Nama Loka, Kamma Bhava, Kamma Vipaka,” “Gandhabba Sensing the World – With and Without a Physical Body,” and “Brain – Interface between Mind and Body.” One needs to spend some time clarifying this key concept.
- The surgeons had inadvertently removed part of the brain of “patient H.M.” that contained the mana indirya (surgeons were trying to stop regular seizures that the patient was experiencing by removing tiny parts of his brain).
- With more studies in the future, we may identify the mana indirya in the brain.

Brain is Required to Capture the External Sensory Object

7. That is why a newborn baby (within a year or so from birth) has a minimal perception capability. The brain has not developed to process all the information that comes through the sense faculties.

- Therefore, a newborn baby’s brain cannot transfer anything useful to the hadaya vatthu to identify objects or match each with the set of āsava/anusaya and generate cravings or dislikes for that sensory input.
- A baby’s hidden āsava will not show up until its brain develops. According to the Buddha, the brain function attains its total capacity around seven years of age: One can even attain Arahanthood if one is over seven.
- The role of the brain is discussed in “Brain and the Gandhabba” and “Brain – Interface between Mind and Body.” Those who really want to investigate this issue can find a lot of information there. I have tried to present a consistent picture using both Buddha Dhamma and recent scientific findings.

The Difference Between an Arahant and Patient H.M.

8. We can get a good idea of how Arahant‘s mind works by considering a person X discussed in #1 through #5 above (or patient H.M. IN #6) who has lost all his memories. The only difference is that in X or H.M., all anusaya are intact, but they cannot be “triggered.”

- For an Arahant, all gati and āsava/anusaya have gone away via cultivating paññā.
- But an Arahant will have all his memories intact. If he has developed abhiññā powers, he will be able to recall memories not only from this life but many, many lives in the past.

Habits/Cravings (and Thus Gati and Āsava/Anusaya) Change With Time

9. Most of our cravings are associated with our past habits and desires. Each person has a unique set, AND that set of habits/cravings will change over time.

- All gati and āsava/anusaya arise or — are with oneself — because of the inability to get rid of evils due to ignorance of the fundamental nature of this world: anicca, dukkha, anatta, asubha, etc.
- When one is on the Path, one will gradually get rid of “bad gati” and cultivate “good gati.” Then, at some point, one will be able to comprehend the anicca nature. Then one’s paññā will grow leading to the PERMANENT removal of anusaya in four stages of Nibbāna.
- One should read up on those Pāli terms if one does not understand them. Translating those terms to English does not make sense because no single English word will convey the same meaning as a Pāli word.
- That is NOT memorization. One should comprehend what is MEANT by a Pāli word, not memorize it.

10. Suppose X is a young male. When X — if he has lost ALL his memories — sees an attractive woman, he will see her as an attractive person. But he will not generate any lust for her, no matter how beautiful she is. It is just “seeing” for him. Note here that he would have lost all memories regarding his past sexual activities (in fact, this is why a baby does not generate sexual thoughts.)

- That “picture,” which comes to mind, cannot match it with X’s past experiences with women. His kāma rāga anusaya is still there but not awakened. The same is true for a baby.
- Similarly, X will not generate any angry thoughts when seeing “an enemy”; he does not recollect the past encounters with the person.
In the same way, X may touch a red-hot iron because he has no idea that it can burn.
- That is also why babies touch or even try to eat anything and everything. They have no prior experience that some of those could be harmful. In the same way, until that baby grows up and has had sexual experiences, kāma rāga anusaya will stay dormant.
- To emphasize, in the case of X, he had NOT his hidden defilements (anusaya.) IF he gets his memories back, his lust towards attractive women or anger towards an old enemy will trigger. We can make it even simpler: If you lose ALL your memories of your father, would you be able to recognize him when you see him? If you cannot recognize him, would you generate affectionate thoughts when you see him? Of course not.
- There are several real-life medical situations where people had lost memories due to different reasons: “Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory.”

“Live in Just the Present Moment”?

11. These days, there are many “philosopher-types” (like Ekhart Tolle or even some Buddhist teachers) who say “forget the past and live in the moment.”

- That is utter nonsense.
- One CANNOT forget the past AND live in the present. The Buddha said to live the present moment mindfully, making sure not to make bad decisions.
- The Buddha had a perfect memory. He could remember things as far back as he wished. Often he would give accounts of what had happened in past lives and teach people how to learn lessons from the past.

An Example from the Tipiṭaka

12. Finally, in the beginning of the “Mahā­māluk­ya Sutta (MN 64)“, the Buddha points out this fact that sakkāya diṭṭhi cannot arise in a new-born baby. That is because of what we discussed above. There is no way to trigger the hidden anusaya in that baby' mind.

- To quote the above translation: “For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘identity,’ so how could identity view (sakkāya diṭṭhi) arise in him? “
- The Pāli verse is: “Daharassa hi, mālukyaputta, kumārassa mandassa uttāna­seyya­kassa sakkāyotipi na hoti, kuto panassa uppajjissati sakkāyadiṭṭhi? “.
Lal
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Anatta in Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta - Part 2

Summary of the Previous Post

1. In the previous post "Anatta in Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta – Part 1" we reached the following conclusions:

- Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta describes the NATURE of the five aggregates: rupa, vedanā, saññā, sañkhāra, viññāṇa. It specifically addresses the anatta nature. To make it easier, we divided the sutta into three parts. You may want to print the previous post for reference.
- In the middle of the sutta (second part), the Buddha makes the connection to the anicca and dukkha nature, as we will discuss below.
- In the third part of the sutta, the Buddha explains that a Noble Person who has understood the real nature of the world to be anicca, dukkha, anatta would not attach to the five aggregates. Thus an Arahant, who has completed the Path, does not have pañcupādānakkhandha.
- That is because a Noble Person would have understood the verse, "saṃkhittena pañcu­pādā­nak­khan­dhā dukkhā" OR "in brief, the origin of suffering is the craving for the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāna. See, "Essence of Buddhism – In the First Sutta." That is the post where we discussed the essence of the Dhammacappavattana Sutta, the first sutta delivered to the five ascetics. As we have seen icchā (craving/liking) is related to anicca; see, "Icca, Nicca, Anicca – Important Connections." :viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1200
- Therefore, in this second sutta to the five ascetics, the Buddha wraps up the discussion on Tilakkhana. Attachment to things of anicca nature leads to dukkha. Thus, one should refrain from taking worldly things as "mine" because they do not have any essence or substance, i.e., worldly entities (pañcak­khan­dhā) are without essence or of anatta nature.

First Part of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta

2. At the beginning of the sutta, regarding rupakkhandha, the Buddha says:

"Rūpaṁ, bhikkhave, anattā. Rūpañca hidaṁ, bhikkhave, attā abhavissa, nayidaṁ rūpaṁ ābādhāya saṁvatteyya, labbhetha ca rūpe: ‘evaṁ me rūpaṁ hotu, evaṁ me rūpaṁ mā ahosī’ti. Yasmā ca kho, bhikkhave, rūpaṁ anattā, tasmā rūpaṁ ābādhāya saṁvattati, na ca labbhati rūpe: ‘evaṁ me rūpaṁ hotu, evaṁ me rūpaṁ mā ahosī’ti."

- First, as we discussed in the previous post, "Rūpaṁ" here refers to rupakkhandha (the rupa aggregate and NOT just one's body) as some people perceive. 

"Rūpaṁ, bhikkhave, anattā" means "rupa aggregate is of no use because it has no essence."  I will explain this and other translations below in detail in upcoming posts. Here, I want to provide a summary of the sutta.

- The rest of the above verse explains WHY the rupa aggregate is of no essence: "If rupa aggregate is of essence (and is under one's control), my body (which is a part of the rupakkhandha) would not have ailments, and it would be possible to have: ‘Let my body (or any other rupa) be the way I like; let it not be the way I don't like.’ But because rupa are not under my control, it can face unexpected changes, and it is not possible to have: ‘Let my rupa be thus; let my rupa not be thus."

Here the verse seems to focus on one's physical body. But it could also mean any rupa that one likes/dislikes. As we will see, whether it is one's own body or any other external rupa, they ALL evolve according to Paṭicca Samuppāda. That has been true for any rupa that ever existed, any rupa existing now, and any rupa that will ever exist i.e., it is true for rupakkhandha!

- Then that verse is repeated for the other four aggregates: vedanāṇakkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, and viññāṇakkhandha.
- Here the words "anatta/anattā" refer to the unfruitful nature of any rupa, vedanā, sanna, sañkhāra, viññāṇa (i.e., one's world).

Second Part of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta

3. The second part of the sutta starts with the verse, “Taṁ kiṁ maññatha, bhikkhave, rūpaṁ niccaṁ vā aniccaṁ vā’ti?” Here, the Buddha points out the reasons why they cannot be under one’s control. 

- The key reason is that all five aggregates have the anicca nature, i.e., they evolve according to nature’s laws and NOT according to one’s wishes or hopes. As we have discussed, anicca nature leads to dukkha, and that is why all efforts to “get control” will not be successful and one will lose control and become helpless (anattā): “Yad aniccaṁ taṁ dukkhaṁ; yaṁ dukkhaṁ tad anattā.” 
- Then the Buddha asks the CRITICAL question: “Yaṁ pana aniccaṁ dukkhaṁ vipariṇāmadhammaṁ, kallaṁ nu taṁ samanupassituṁ: ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’”ti? OR
"If something evolves according to its own nature (and not according to my wishes) and can lead to suffering should one regard it thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this can be of benefit/refuge to me’?” The answer is no.
- To look at the verse "etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā" a bit more closely, esohamasmi is shortened form of "[i]eso aham asmi[/i]." And "mama" means "mine," "aham asmi" is "I am," and "me" means "to me." That is how we get the translation above. 

4. That last verse is of critical importance. It helps clarify the current misconceptions about a "self."  As I have pointed out previously, it is better to talk about "me" rather than a "self" because some people may interpret "self" to mean a "permanent entity" like a soul.

- As we can see, the Buddha freely used the word "me". That is because, AS LONG AS a living being is in the rebirth process it has the perception of a "me." That could be called a "self" too if one understands that such a "self" is not associated with a permanent "soul."
- On the other hand, the words "atta/attā" do not refer to a "me" or a "self" in this sutta. As we saw, this sutta is about the five aggregates (pañcak­khan­dhā) which encompasses everything in this world.
- Those who have not understood the Four Noble Truths consider the world (pañcak­khan­dhā) to be of nicca/sukha/atta nature. Therefore, they attach to certain worldly things or pañcu­pādā­nak­khan­dhā, and that is the origin of future suffering: "saṃkhittena pañcu­pādā­nak­khan­dhā dukkhā.” See, "Essence of Buddhism – In the First Sutta."viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1305

5. The Buddha explained what is meant by a “satta” or a “living being” to Rādha in the “Satta Sutta (SN 23.2).” “Rūpe kho, Rādha, yo chando yo rāgo yā nandī yā taṇhā, tatra satto, tatra visatto, tasmā sattoti vuccati. Vedanāya … saññāya … saṅkhāresu … viññāṇe yo chando yo rāgo yā nandī yā taṇhā, tatra satto, tatra visatto, tasmā sattoti vuccati

- Translated (just the meaning): “Rādha, when there is desire (chanda), rāga, and a perception of high value (nandī) of material form (rūpa), there is clinging (satto), strong clinging (visatto) for form, and then an ignorant living-being (satto) is spoken of. Similarly, when there is desire (chanda), rāga, and a perception of high value (nandī) of vedanā … saññā … saṅkhāra … viññāṇa, then a living-being is spoken of.”
We discussed that in the introductory post, "Five Aggregates and Tilakkhaṇa – Introduction."
- This is why any living being in any of the 31 realms (except those who have attained magga phala) is a "satta"  ("satva" in Sanskrit.) Even the Buddha before Enlightenment is a "Bodhisatta" or a "satta destined to attain the Buddhahood."
- The present body of even a living Arahant arose due to past kamma done with the perception of a "me." That body is a result of that past kamma and will be there even after attaining the Arahanthood. At the death of an Arahant, a new life/body will not arise. Until that time, Arahant will use the words "I" and "me" but with the complete understanding that those words need to be used as long as one lives in this world. That is what the Buddha did too.

Third Part of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta

6. The final third part of the sutta states:

"Evaṁ passaṁ, bhikkhave, sutavā ariyasāvako rūpasmimpi nibbindati, vedanāyapi nibbindati, saññāyapi nibbindati, saṅkhāresupi nibbindati, viññāṇasmimpi nibbindati. Nibbindaṁ virajjati; virāgā vimuccati. Vimuttasmiṁ vimuttamiti ñāṇaṁ hoti." OR

"Seeing thus, Bhikkhus, a noble disciple (who has understood the above truths) would not attach to rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. The mind sees that those mind-pleasing things have no value and becomes liberated (from this world.) Once liberated, he realizes that he is liberated:

"Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ, kataṁ karaṇīyaṁ, nāparaṁ itthattāyā’ti pajānātī”ti." OR

He understands: ‘Destroyed is rebirth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of existence (n the suffering-filled world).”

Summary

7. The above is a brief summary of the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta. Let us summarize the conclusions.

- The first thing to note is that the analysis is on the five aggregates (pañcak­khan­dhā.) Since pañcak­khan­dhā represents one's world, the sutta is about the anatta nature of the world of 31 realms.
- In the second part, the Buddha states that the anatta nature is a result of anicca nature. In simple terms that means any rupa (whether internal or external) or mental impressions due to rupa (i.e., vedanā, saññā, sañkhāra, viññāṇa) arise NOT due to the way one wants/wishes. Rather they arise due to a natural process that takes place because of one's ignorance of that natural process. That process is Paṭicca Samuppāda.  We can easily see that vedanā, sañkhāra, and viññāṇa arise in Paṭicca Samuppāda starting with "avijjā paccayā sañkhāra." The "bhava paccayā jāti" step describes the arising of the internal rupa. We will get to those details soon.
- Finally, the Buddha says that the world is of unfruitful nature, and there is nothing that can be considered to be valuable. However, an average human thinks very highly of the "pleasures" to be had in this world! That is why the Buddha said his Dhamma had never been known to the world. Only a Noble Person who has understood the anicca, dukkha, anatta nature of this world can cultivate the Eightfold Noble Path and be "fully liberated" from this suffering-filled world, i.e., attain the Arahanthood.
- As you can see, this sutta is highly condensed. Just by translating the sutta word-by-word, it is not possible to understand its true meanings. Deep suttas like this need to be explained in detail; see, "Sutta Interpretation – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Paṭiniddēsa" on Apr 19, 2021 viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1335
- We will look deeper into the sutta in the upcoming posts, especially to make the connection between anicca and  Paṭicca Samuppāda.
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