The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

On Jan 07, 2021, I started a new series of posts on "Understanding the Terms in Paṭicca Samuppāda." However, a recent discussion on another thread here made it clear to me that most people (at least many of those who make comments) do not have the necessary background for such a deeper discussion. Thus, I will start a new series of posts under the same topic. I will try to explain the key terms in Paṭicca Samuppāda in a simpler way.
- Of course, my characterization of key concepts are just mine, but fully consistent with the Tipitaka. If one is offended by these explanations, just don't read my posts. Different people understand Dhamma in different ways. There is no need for those people to try to "respond" to my posts. There are enough threads at Dhamma Wheel to express your views. I will mostly stick to this thread. There seem to be enough people who would at least like to read my explanations. I will stop posting if there is not enough interest and/or if the response remains hostile. The Buddha said trying to persuade those who have made up their minds is a foolish errand. I could be doing more harm than good.

Sakkāya Diṭṭhi – Wrong View of “Me” and “Mine”

Sakkāya Diṭṭhi is the wrong view of an unchanging essence associated with a human. Materialists — who don’t believe in rebirth — believe the essence is one’s body. The other extreme is the belief that there is an unchanging “mental component” that survives the death of the physical body.

Definition of Sakkāya Diṭṭhi

1. In several suttas, sakkāya diṭṭhi is described as follows (Ref. 1): “.. uninformed ordinary persons who have not been exposed to the teaching of the Noble persons have one of the following views. One group has the wrong vision about rūpa (material form) in 4 ways: to regard rūpa as “mine”, or “I” as rūpa, or rūpa to be “in me”, or “I” to be “in rūpa.” Then there is the other group who regard one or more of the mental factors vedanā (feeling) … saññā (perception) … saṅkhāra ( ways of thinking) … viññāṇa (consciousness) as “mine”, or “I” as those, or them to be “in me”, or “I’ to be “in them”.”

- Materialists represent the first group today. They don’t believe in rebirth and thus just take one’s own body to be “me.” They have uccheda diṭṭhi. Let us call this view “materialism.”
- Those who belong to major religions today believe that the mind survives the death of the physical body and can be merged with the Creator leading to a permanent existence. The Buddha pointed out that the mind can be separated out into four components (vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. Each of those could be viewed as “mine” in 4 ways like for the rupa. Thus, they could have one or more of those 16 wrong views. Those have sassata diṭṭhi. For brevity, let us call this “soul-view.”
- Therefore, most people today can have one or more of the 20 types of wrong views about existence: vīsativatthukā sakkāya diṭṭhi.

Getting Rid of Sakkāya Diṭṭhi Is the First Step to Nibbāna

2. To understand why those are wrong views (per Buddha Dhamma,) first we need to clarify what kind of suffering that the Buddha said can be stopped.

- When an average human thinks about suffering, he/she would think about the FEELING of suffering. That could be physical suffering (injuries. sicknesses) or mental suffering like depression.
- But the Buddha taught that those kinds of sufferings can only be “managed” but cannot be stopped. They can be managed by eating well, exercising, etc., and by following medical advice for injuries/sicknesses. Mental sufferings can also be managed by living a simple, moral life.

3. However, the Buddha said we need to pay more attention to possible suffering in future lives. Those lives are yet to arise, and we have the ability to stop ALL suffering associated with future births. He taught that the death of the physical body does not end any type of suffering that we have experienced. One will be reborn either as human again or in one of 31 realms that include the animal realm.

- He said that most births in this process (called saṃsāra) are in the lowest four realms (apāyās) and that the animal realm is one of those four. Even though we cannot see those beings in the other realms, we can see the suffering of the animals, which is much harsher than for humans.
- The key point is that such future suffering can be stopped. That is Nibbāna.
- When one understands the futility of seeking happiness in this world, one gets rid of sakkāya diṭṭhi and becomes a Sotapanna. Then one follows the Noble Eightfold Path and becomes an Arahant and thereby attains Nibbāna.

The Worst Wrong View Is Uccheda Diṭṭhi (Materialism)

4. From the above discussion, it is quite obvious that Buddha Dhamma’s main benefit is to help people attain Nibbāna and thus to be free of future suffering in the rebirth process (saṃsāra.) The current body that we have is a “result” and vedanā that arise in that physical body cannot be totally stopped. That is why Ven. Moggalana was beaten to death. However, ALL suffering for Ven. Moggalana ended after his death (Parinibbāna.) For all others, there will be more future suffering after death.

- Thus it should be quite obvious that the worst wrong view is to assume that one’s life ends at death. If that is the case, there is not much benefit in studying Buddha Dhamma at a deeper level. One could be a “secular Buddhist” and just try to live a moral life. However, the term “secular Buddhist” is an oxymoron just like the term “alone in a crowd” or “walking dead.”
- Having the sassata diṭṭhi (believing in a permanent soul) is also bad and is the other extreme. They may be reluctant (or afraid) to engage in immoral deeds for the fear of being sent to hell permanently, but do not see any drawbacks in engaging in “legitimate sense pleasures.”
- I say that those with the uccheda diṭṭhi may be worse because they DO NOT NEED to have AN INTRINSIC moral compass. Even though most materialists DO live perfectly moral lives, they could be more susceptible to commit offenses on impulse (when temptations become strong enough.)

If There is No Soul, “What” Is Reborn?

5. The two views of materialism and soul-view are easy to understand.

Materialism means one just lives this life and when one dies that is the end of it. Those with the soul-view do their best to live a moral life and hope to be born in Heaven (Abrahamic religions) or in a Brahma realm which is supposed to be permanent (Hinduism.)

- Most people have difficulty in understanding the Buddha’s view. Since it involves rebirth, the difficulty is to see how it is different from the soul-view.
- One quick way to see the difference is to compare Buddha’s view with that of Hinduism. In Abrahamic religions, one will be born either in heaven or hell, i.e., there are not many rebirths. But in both Buddha Dhamma and Hinduism, there can be numerous rebirths. In Buddhism, that process ends when one attains Nibbāna (as an Arahant). In Hinduism, it ends when one is born in the realm of Mahā Brahma.
- The other key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is the following. In Hinduism, future lives are “reincarnations” of the same ātman (similar to a soul in Abrahamic religions.) Reincarnation implies it is the same “essence” (as a soul) that just moves from one life to another.
- In Buddha Dhamma, there is no such soul or ātman that goes from life-to-life. Instead of “REINCARNATION”, it is REBIRTH. This is THE crucial difference.

How Is Rebirth Different From Reincarnation?

6. Reincarnation implies that there is SOMETHING unique AND unchanging in a human that is carried to the next life. The body can take different forms, but there is a “unique life force” (my characterization of “ātman“) that remains unchanged from life-to-life.

- In “Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2, Verse 22” ( this is explained as, “As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the soul casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one.”
- Thus, one may be born with a “different body” (outer garments) but the essence (personal identity or “ātman“) remains.
- The mechanism is very different in Buddha Dhamma. The process is intrinsically dictated by Paṭicca Samuppāda. “Personality” can undergo drastic changes from one existence (bhava) to another. I have tried to explain it in the post “What Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream.” I will post that here in a few days.

Concept of a Bhava – No Personality Involved

7. In Buddha Dhamma, a key idea that needs to be grasped is the concept of a “bhava.” A “lifestream” makes transitions from bhava to bhava based SOLELY on kammic energy. There is NO “personality” that remains FIXED.

Different types of unwise thinking, speech, and actions (dictated by different types of saṅkhāra) lead to different types of bhava and jāti.

- However, in adjacent lives, there will be similarities in character/habits represented by the term “gati.” In fact, one’s gati will greatly influence the next bhava. For example, if one lived an immoral life suitable for an animal, it is likely that he/she WOULD BE born an animal.
- That is explained by Paṭicca Samuppāda. Saṅkhāra (one’s thoughts, speech, and actions) that arise due to avijjā is at the beginning of the Paṭicca Samuppāda process. Then towards the end, it leads to a certain type of bhava (existence), and birth (jāti) in that existence.
- For example, if a human cultivates arupāvacara jhāna (with āneñjābhisaṅkhāra), that will lead to existence as an arupāvacara Brahma. See #5 of “Saṅkhāra – What It Really Means” for an explanation of how different types of bhava arise due to three broad categories of abhisaṅkhāra.

All Bhava Lead to Suffering

8. The akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process describes how any and all (abhi)saṅkhāra done with avijjā LEAD to various bhava and jāti. This is the first step in the akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process: “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.” Towards the end, it leads to bhava.

- Those bhava lead to births (jāti) among the 31 realms. Without exception, any jāti ends up in suffering. That is the last step in the akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process: “jāti paccayā jarā, marana, soka-paridēva-dukkha-dōmanassupāyasā sambhavan’ti.”
- In upcoming posts, we will go through the steps in Paṭicca Samuppāda to further clarify how the wrong view of sakkāya diṭṭhi sustains this process that keeps one bound to saṃsāra, the rebirth process. That is not the reincarnation of a “soul.”
- Until one understands that process, one has avijjā, i.e., one is ignorant about the Four Noble Truths.
- There is one more aspect that needs to be understood. Let us discuss that now.

Difference Between Wrong Views and Wrong Perceptions

9. Most texts describe sakkāya diṭṭhi as “self-illusion” or “personality belief,” i.e., “belief that a self or I exist” (you can Google “sakkāya diṭṭhi” and see). Here it is essential to understand that there is a difference between “wrong view” and “wrong perception.” A Sōtapanna would have removed the wrong view (diṭṭhi), but not the false perception (saññā.)

- But this perception (saññā) of a “self” (or a “soul” which is also called “ātma“) is NOT sakkāya diṭṭhi per Tipiṭaka as we discuss below. That is a saññā (perception) that we have carried from life-to-life. For a discussion on saññā, see, “What is Sanna (Perception)?“.
- The deeply-embedded idea of a “self” or an innate sense of “me” is rooted in the māna cetasika.
- If one gets offended if treated with disrespect, that means one still has māna left. Even an Anāgāmi could be somewhat perturbed if he/she perceives to be treated badly. A component of māna — called asmi māna — is still left at the Anāgāmi stage. Māna is removed not at the Sōtapanna stage, but the Arahant stage.

A Sōtapanna Removes Only Wrong Views About an “Unchanging Soul”

10. What is removed at the Sōtapanna stage is the wrong view (diṭṭhi) that there is something unchanging and permanent like a “soul” is associated with oneself. That goes with the belief that lasting happiness can be achieved by just living a moral life (even though that is essential.)

- When one can see that there is no “real essence” (like a “soul” or a “ātma“) associated with a living being, this wrong view of sakkāya diṭṭhi goes away. A lifestream evolves, according to Paṭicca Samuppāda; see, “Anattā in Anattalakkahana Sutta – No Soul or an Ātma.”: ... l-no-atma/
- Therefore, it is incorrect to believe that the perception of a “self” will go away at the Sōtapanna stage. It is also dangerous because one is trying to do something that is not possible to do at that stage. It is like a child in primary school trying to get a Ph.D.


1. The following verse appears in many suttas, for example in the “Cūḷavedalla Sutta (MN 44) “: “assutavā puthujjano, ariyānaṃ adassāvī ariyadhammassa akovido ariyadhamme avinīto, sappurisānaṃ adassāvī sap­purisa­dhammassa akovido sap­purisa­dhamme avinīto, rūpaṃ attato samanupassati, rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ, attani vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. Vedanaṃ … pe … saññāṃ … saṅkhāre … viññāṇaṃ attato samanupassati, viññāṇavantaṃ vā attānaṃ, attani vā viññāṇaṃ, viññāṇasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. Evaṃ kho, āvuso visākha, sakkāya diṭṭhi hotī.”
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

What Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream

Reincarnation Versus Rebirth

1. Reincarnation is a Hindu concept, where the “ātma” (“ātman”) or the soul remains the same but takes a different form. The Rigveda compares it to a person discarding an old suit and wearing a new outfit. See the previous post, “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi – Wrong View of “Me” and “Mine.”

- In Buddha Dhamma, it is a rebirth since there is no soul to reincarnate. We have accumulated many “kamma seeds” (kamma bīja) which contain various “habits” and “character” (called “gati”) In our long journey through saṃsāra. Those lead to different types of rebirths; see, “Saṅkhāra, Kamma, Kamma Bīja, Kamma Vipaka.”
- At the end of this human existence, the kammic energy of the kamma seed for the present life is exhausted. At that moment, a new life starts with a new potent kamma seed. The selection of a new seed itself is a complicated process and depends on the potency of the available kamma seeds, but it happens within a thought-moment.
- Let us first summarize Buddha’s description of sentient life. The following facts are indisputable.

No Discernible Beginning to Saṃsāra (Rebirth Process)

2. During the night of attaining the Buddhahood, the Buddha looked back at his rebirth process. He was able to scan eons in mere moments, but no matter how far back he looked, he could not see a “beginning.” He has given many similes (analogies) to indicate the “unimaginable length of the rebirth process.”

- For example, Assu Sutta (SN 15.3) states: “Bhikkhus, this rebirth process has no discernible (na pannāyati) beginning. Beings whose minds are covered by ignorance and are bound to this rebirth process with bonds of craving.“
- Birth as a human is very rare among all those rebirths, as stated, for example, in the Nakha­sikha Sutta (SN 20.2). “bhikkhus, sentient beings reborn as humans are few as this bit of sand on my fingernail. But those not reborn as humans are many as the sand on this great Earth. Therefore, you should strive diligently and without delay to end this suffering in the rebirth process.”
- Further details at “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm.” on Oct 31, 2018 (p.43)

The Concept of a Lifestream

3. The Buddha used the term “satta” to describe a living-being going through that rebirth process. In the Satta Sutta (SN 23.2), Ven. Rādha asked the Buddha: “..they speak of this thing called a ‘sentient being.’ How is a sentient being defined?”

- The Buddha answered: “Rādha, when there is liking (chanda), strong liking ( rāgo), reveling (nandī), and the tendency to attach (taṇhā), then a ‘sentient being’ is spoken of.”
- In other words, as long as a ‘sentient being’ highly values things in this world, it will be reborn in this world. It could be reborn a human, an animal, a Deva, etc., at various times. Thus, it is NOT possible to label any such existence as THE defining entity. When born a human, a satta behaves like a human, and when born an animal it acts like an animal, etc.
- I use the English word to describe “satta” as a “lifestream.” The term “sentient being” is more suitable to refer to a “satta.” On the other hand, “a lifestream” refers to the whole process that a satta goes through in Saṃsāra.
- A given lifestream can take various forms in the rebirth process. There is no “core” or ‘soul” or "ātman” to talk about! On the other hand, as long as that fact is not understood, there is a satta in the rebirth process.

A Bodhisatta is a Special Satta

4. Buddha Gotama, like any other Buddha, made a heroic effort to become a Buddha through many eons. When he made enough progress, he was declared a “Bodhisatta” by Buddha Deepankara many eons ago.

- A Bodhisatta is a special satta destined to become a Buddha. “Bodhi” means “towards liberation/release.” When a satta has fulfilled enough paramitā to become a Buddha, he is declared a “Bodhisatta” by existing Buddhas. See, “Pāramitā and Niyata Vivarana – Myths or Realities?.” ... realities/
- Even after becoming a Bodhisatta, it is possible to be born in the animal realm (but NOT in the other three realms in the apāyās.)
- Therefore, a sentient being is born in any given bhava ONLY according to causes and effects. That is described in Paṭicca Samuppāda, which starts with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” and ends in “bhava paccayā jāti” and jāti paccayā jarā, marana, soka-paridēva-dukkha-dōmanassupāyasā sambhavan’ti.
- There is no reference to a “special/particular being” in that whole process. Future existences (bhava) and births (jāti) within that existence only depend on past kamma (saṅkhāra) done with avijjā!

Transcending the “Satta State” to Attain Puggala Stages

5. All other living-beings (sattā) overcome the “satta state” by learning how to do that from a Buddha or a true disciple of a Buddha (Ariya.)

- There are 8 such Ariyās (Noble Persons) as described in the “Paṭhamapuggala Sutta (AN 8.59),” for example.
- They are: “Sotāpanno, sotāpattiphalasacchikiriyāya paṭipanno (sotāpanna anugāmi), sakadāgāmī, sakadāgāmiphalasacchikiriyāya paṭipanno (sakadāgāmi anugāmi), anāgāmī, anāgāmiphalasacchikiriyāya paṭipanno (anāgāmī anugāmi), arahā, arahattāya paṭipanno (arahant anugāmi).”
- Another special satta overcomes the “satta state” by his own efforts. That is a Pacceka Buddha. A Pacceka Buddha has not fulfilled ALL the paramitās to become a Sammāsambuddha like Buddha Gotama. Therefore, a Pacceka Buddha does not have the ability to explain Dhamma like a Sammāsambuddha. Not that many sattās can attain Nibbāna from a Pacceka Buddha.

All Sattās Are Trapped in the Rebirth Process

6. Therefore, until the Sotapanna Anugāmi stage is attained, all sentient beings (even in those good realms like human, Deva, and Brahma) are trapped in the rebirth process.

- They all have not overcome the “satta state” and thus could be born in the apāyās in the future.
- The lifestream of a satta in ANY of those 31 realms will flow ceaselessly until the fruitlessness AND danger in remaining in the rebirth process is comprehended.
- The danger is because most births in the rebirth process are in the lowest four realms (apāyās.) The reason for that is in the verse that describes a “satta” in #3 above: “Rādha, when there is liking (chanda), strong liking ( rāgo), reveling (nandī), and the tendency to attach (taṇhā), then a ‘sentient being’ is spoken of.”
- The Buddha referred to there was any sentient being’s attachment to “worldly pleasures”.

Rest of the Satta Sutta

7. After explaining to Ven. Rādha the meaning of a “satta,” Buddha explained to him why those sentient beings are trapped in the rebirth process filled with unimaginable suffering.

- Here is the English translation at Sutta Central (my revisions are in bold):

“Suppose some boys or girls were playing with sandcastles. As long as they’re not rid of greed, desire, fondness, thirst, passion, and craving for those sandcastles, they cherish them, fancy them, treasure them, and treat them as their own. But when they grow up they get rid of greed, desire, fondness, thirst, passion, and craving for those useless sandcastles. Then they scatter, destroy, and demolish them with their hands and feet, making them unplayable.

In the same way, you should scatter, destroy, and demolish the desire for mind-pleasing things in this world, and reject them. And you should practice for the ending of craving. You should scatter, destroy, and demolish the desire for feeling … perception … saṅkhāre … Viññāṇaṃ, making them unplayable. Taṇhākkhayo hi, rādha, nibbānan” ti (Rādha, Nibbāna is the elimination of taṇhā).”

Overcoming the Desire to Build Sandcastles

8. Thus the Buddha compared the behavior of any living-being in the “satta state” to children enjoying the building sandcastles in a beach. Due to their ignorance (avijjā) they don’t realize the futility of building sandcastles for enjoyment.

- In the same way, until one hears and comprehends actual teachings of the Buddha (Four Noble Truths/Paṭicca Samuppāda/Tilakkhana) one would not “see” the futility AND dangers in enjoying sense pleasures in this world. Children building sand castles only waste their time. On the other hand, sattās enjoying sensory pleasures pave the way to rebirths in the apāyās without realizing it.
- When one starts “seeing” the true nature of this world, one removed sakkāya diṭṭhi and becomes a Sotapanna Anugāmi. That “vision” is fully established when one also removes any doubts (vicikiccā) and also sees that rituals (silabbata parāmāsa) will not get one released from the rebirth process. One is at the Sotapanna stage at that point.
- However, that is only the beginning of the Noble Eightfold Path. Only the diṭṭhi vipallāsa (wrong vision) is removed yet. With that “new vision” (Sammā Diṭṭhi), one needs to follow the other seven steps and get to Sammā Samādhi to remove saññā vipallāsa at the Anāgāmi stage and the citta vipallāsa at the Arahant stage. See, “Vipallāsa (Diṭṭhi, Saññā, Citta) Affect Sankhāra.” ... =vipallasa
- What I described above in #8 is a summary. Don’t worry about the details if you have not comprehended those concepts yet. Hopefully, When we go through the steps in the Paṭicca Samuppāda process, they will become clear.

Puthujjano Is a Satta in the Human Realm

9. Finally, a human in the “satta state” (i.e., who has not comprehended the Four Noble Truths) is a “puthujjano.” Thus, a puthujjano (normally translated as “uninformed ordinary person” in many translations) is a human with sakkāya diṭṭhi.

- In the “Cūḷavedalla Sutta (MN 44),” Ven. Dhammadinnā is asked: “how does sakkāya diṭṭhi (identity view) come about?”
- She replied: “.. uninformed ordinary persons who have not been exposed to the teaching of the Noble persons have one of the following views. One group has the wrong vision about rūpa (material form) in 4 ways: to regard rūpa as “mine”, or “I” as rūpa, or rūpa to be “in me”, or “I” to be “in rūpa.” Then there is the other group who regard one or more of the mental factors vedanā (feeling) … saññā (perception) … saṅkhāra (ways of thinking) … viññāṇa (consciousness) as “mine”, or “I” as those, or them to be “in me”, or “I’ to be “in them”. (We discussed this in #1 of the previous post “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi – Wrong View of “Me” and “Mine”.)
- Thus, any living-being (human, Deva, Brahma, as well as any other living-being) who has not comprehended the “world vision” of how suffering arises, is a “satta.” A satta in the human realm is a puthujjano.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Anatta and Sakkāya Diṭṭhi – Two Different Concepts

Anatta is Not Sakkāya Diṭṭhi

1. As we discussed in the previous two posts, sakkāya diṭṭhi is the WRONG VIEW of “me” and “mine.” Please read them again as needed.

- New existences (bhava) arise due to specific kamma done with different types of abhisaṅkhāra (vaci abhisaṅkhāra and kāya abhisaṅkhāra.) That is a process dictated by Paṭicca Samuppāda. Those saṅkhārā arise with having that wrong view (part of avijjā.) That is why the PS process starts with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā.”
- When one understands the Paṭicca Samuppāda process, one will see that it is such saṅkhārā (thoughts) arise because one believes that experiences in this world can bring happiness. Such experiences come through the body and mind, and one takes those as “me.” Those external things that be likes, one takes them to be “mine.” (To emphasize again, saññā and citta vipallāsa of “me” and “mine” will be removed only at Anāgāmi and Arahant stages. Removal of sakkāya diṭṭhi only removes the wrong view. This was discussed in #8 of the previous post.)
- Those wrong views of a “me” and ‘mine” keep one bound to the rebirth process. There is a living-being (satta) AS LONG AS there is the wrong of a “me” and “mine” associated with that lifestream. We will discuss this in detail in upcoming posts.
- That wrong view is sakkāya diṭṭhi. As long as the sakkāya diṭṭhi is there, one will not overcome the “satta” state and become one of the 8 Ariya puggalā, as discussed in those previous two posts. Furthermore, a “me” will exist (in the rebirth process) until that wrong view is removed.
- That wrong view will be removed ONLY WHEN one sees nothing in this world TO BE CONSIDERED “me” or “mine.” Therefore, sakkāya diṭṭhi (the wrong view) is RELATED TO anatta (a characteristic of nature.)
- But anatta is NOT that wrong associated with a “me” or a “self.” Anatta means EVERYTHING in this world is devoid of value.

Anatta is Not “No-Self”!

2. Many people translate the word “anatta” as “no-self.” But the Buddha advised us to stay away from the following two extremes to describe a living-being (satta.)

- It is NOT correct to say that a satta (with the wrong view of a “self”) does not exist. That satta will live in one of the 31 realms as long as having that incorrect view. Most importantly, life is real, and so is the suffering (together with infrequent happiness). Here, I am referring to the long rebirth process.
- On the other hand, in ultimate reality, there is no “self” or a “soul” or an “ātman” traveling the rebirth process (saṃsāra.) When that is understood, that satta will cease to exist IN THIS WORLD, i.e., that lifestream will merge with Nibbāna.
- Instead of having endless debates about whether a “self” exists or not, it pays to focus on how the Buddha explained the existence of a satta suffering much in the rebirth process.
- To repeat: abhisaṅkhāra ARISE in a mind BECAUSE a satta (living-being) acts with that wrong view. But if one understands this process, one can be mindful and stop such saṅkhārā from CONTINUING TO grow and LEAD TO new existences (bhava.) That is the basis of Satipaṭṭhāna.
- When one understands Paṭicca Samuppāda, one will see no need to follow either of those two extremes of whether there is a “self” or not.

What is Anatta?

3. The concept of anatta is intrinsically related to the other two: anicca and dukkha. Those three are the “three characteristics of nature.”

- None of those are DIRECTLY about a “person” (or a “puthujjano”) or a “satta” in general.
- Anicca, dukkha, anatta are related by “yadaniccam tam dukkham, yam dukkham tadanattā” (expanded:yad aniccam taṃ dukkham, yaṃ dukkham tad anattā.“) That means, “everything in this world” is of anicca nature; (craving for them) leads to dukkha; therefore, it is unfruitful to crave for anything in this world (anatta).”
- There are 12 suttas in the Aniccavagga of the Saṃyutta Nikāya 35 (SN 35.1 through SN 35.12), stating that anicca (and dukkha and anatta) nature is associated with everything in this world.
- There are 6 suttas in the Aniccavagga of the Saṃyutta Nikāya 2 (SN 22.12 through SN 22.17) stating the same and the above relationship among the three entities.

Inert Things Are of Anatta Nature Too!

4. The “Yadanattā Sutta (SN 22. 17)” states: “[i]Rūpaṃ, bhikkhave, anattā. Yadanattā taṃ ‘netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti evametaṃ yathābhūtaṃ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṃ. Vedanā anattā …saññā anattā …saṅkhārā anattā …viññāṇaṃ anattā[/i].”

Translated:Bhikkhus, rupa is of anatta nature. It has no essence and is of no value. Any rupa (including external rupa) should be seen as it really is — with correct wisdom — thus: ‘This rupa is not mine, this I am not, this should not be taken as “me.” Then the same is stated for the four mental components.

- There are other suttas explicitly stating that the external world is also of anatta nature. For example, the “Bāhirāyatana anatta Sutta (SN 35.227)” says: “Rūpā, bhikkhave, anattā. Saddā … gandhā … rasā … phoṭṭhabbā … dhammā anattā. Evaṃ passaṃ … pe … nāparaṃ itthattāyāti pajānātī” ti.

Translated:Bhikkhus, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and dhammā are of anatta nature. Seeing this … (a Noble Person) understands: ‘There is no value in any of those… (for them) there is no return to any state of existence in this world (i.e., they will attain Nibbāna).’”

- Does it make sense to say, “sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and thoughts are not-self”? Is having a “self” a possibility for sights, sounds, etc.? But that is the exact English translation of this sutta at Sutta Central!
- Thus, it should be clear that ALL INERT THINGS in this world are also of anatta nature!
- It is unfruitful AND dangerous to value them and to attach (taṇhā) to them. However, that attachment CANNOT be stopped by sheer willpower. It will gradually fade away as one starts to understand the Paṭicca Samuppāda process.
- We will get to discuss this in detail in the future. But I just wanted to make the distinction between sakkāya diṭṭhi and anatta.

Sakkāya Diṭṭhi Is Related to Anatta

5. Of course, getting rid of sakkāya diṭṭhi and starting to comprehend Tilakkhana (including anatta nature) happens simultaneously at the Sotapanna stage. Those two concepts are related.

- This relationship is described in the “Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta (SN 22.59),” the second sutta delivered by the Buddha to the five ascetics.

Rūpaṃ, bhikkhave, anattā. Rūpañca hidaṃ, bhikkhave, attā abhavissa, nayidaṃ rūpaṃ ābādhāya saṃvatteyya, labbhetha ca rūpe: ‘evaṃ me rūpaṃ hotu, evaṃ me rūpaṃ mā ahosī’ti.” ORBhikkhus, form no value and should not be considered one’s own. If rupa (meaning one’s body in this case) belonged to oneself, one should be able to control it (without leading to sicknesses and injuries; one should be able to say: ‘Let my body be thus without affliction)”
- “Yasmā ca kho, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ anattā, tasmā rūpaṃ ābādhāya saṃvattati, na ca labbhati rūpe: ‘evaṃ me rūpaṃ hotu, evaṃ me rūpaṃ mā ahosī’ti. OR “But this body has the anatta nature, it leads to affliction, and it is not possible to have it thus: ‘Let my body be this way; let my body not be the other way.'” Therefore, “this body should not be considered as mine” is ONE ASPECT of the anatta nature.
- In other words, one’s body is just like any other rupa in this world. It is subject to the anatta nature dictated by Paṭicca Samuppāda. That is also why sakkāya diṭṭhi is wrong.
- The sutta explains that the same is true for the other four mental aggregates: vedanā anattā, saññā anattā, saṅkhārā anattā, viññāṇaṃ anattā.

Anattā AsārakaṭṭhenātiAnatta Means Anything in this World is Void of Value

6. Finally, the following verse is in the “3.1. Mahāpaññākathā the end) of Paṭisambhidāmagga in the Tipiṭaka: “Rūpaṃ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ aniccaṃ khayaṭṭhena dukkhaṃ bhayaṭṭhena anattā asārakaṭṭhenāti..”

Translated: “any rupa belonging to the past, present, or future is of anicca nature and (attaching to them) will lead to one’s downfall (khaya); it is of dukkha nature because it is dangerous (bhaya); it is of anatta nature because it is useless (asāra.)“

- Thus it is evident that anatta CANNOT be translated as “no-self.”
- The next verse there is; “Rūpaṃ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ aniccaṃ saṅkhataṃ paṭiccasamuppannaṃ khayadhammaṃ vayadhammaṃ virāgadhammaṃ nirodhadhammanti tulayitvā tīrayitvā vibhāvayitvā vibhūtaṃ katvā rūpanirodhe nibbāne khippaṃ javatīti—javanapaññā. Vedanā … pe … saññā … saṅkhārā … viññāṇaṃ … cakkhu … pe … jarāmaraṇaṃ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ aniccaṃ saṅkhataṃ paṭiccasamuppannaṃ khayadhammaṃ vayadhammaṃ virāgadhammaṃ nirodhadhammanti tulayitvā tīrayitvā vibhāvayitvā vibhūtaṃ katvā jarāmaraṇanirodhe nibbāne khippaṃ javatīti—javanapaññā. Javanapaññatāya saṃvattantīti—ayaṃ javanapaññā. (14)”

- Here it is emphasized that EVERYTHING in this world, including all rupa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, viññāṇa,cakkhu … through jarāmaraṇa, are all of anicca nature and arise via Paṭicca Samuppāda. They ALL lead to eventual suffering (dukkha). They ALL are of no real value (anatta.) See #3 above “yad aniccam taṃ dukkham, yaṃ dukkham tad anattā.“
- That is why we first need to understand the Paṭicca Samuppāda process.
- This post has many Pāli verses. But I wanted to quote directly from the Tipiṭaka to make things absolutely clear. It is critical to understand these fundamental concepts.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

NibbānaRāgakkhaya Dosakkhaya Mohakkhaya – Part 1

Nibbāna is defined as “rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo—idaṃ vuccati nibbānan’ti” OR “Nibbāna is the ending of rāga, dosa, and moha.”

What Is Nibbāna?

1. The above verse explaining Nibbāna appears in many suttas. The above quote is from “Nibbānapañhā Sutta (SN 38.1)”:

- There is a stronger version of rāga, i.e., lobha (extreme greed.) Someone with a lobha mindset CANNOT comprehend the Four Noble Truths. That is why Nibbāna is defined as above.
- All future suffering arise due to lobha, dosa, moha. But until lobha is reduced to the rāga level, one cannot comprehend the Noble Truths. See, “Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha versus Rāga, Patigha, Avijjā” on Nov 11, 2018 (p. 44):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=645
- Someone with a “moral mindset” who has removed the ten types of wrong views NORMALLY has reduced versions of rāga, patigha, avijjā. However, their mindsets can also be elevated to stronger lobha, dosa, and moha under some conditions (if the temptation is high enough.)
- Someone who has removed the ten types of wrong views can comprehend the Four Noble Truths and remove avijjā (ignorance about this world’s real - nature.) It happens in four stages culminating at the Arahant stage.
- That is a summary. We will discuss the details below and in upcoming posts.

Nibbāna Defined as Above Is the Ultimate Version

2. What is defined above is the ultimate version of Nibbāna or the “ultimate cooling down” via “eliminating ANY future suffering.”

- In the previous three posts in this series, I briefly laid out the key (and deeper) foundations of Buddha Dhamma. I did that so that one would see the outline. Of course, more explanations are needed to clarify them.
- We will gradually clarify those concepts.
- The way to do that is to realize that we CAN experience the early stage of “cooling down” by gradually reducing lobha, dosa, moha to the rāga, patigha, avijjā AND trying to maintain them there without re-elevating to the lobha, dosa, moha levels.
- A single Pāli word captures lobha, dosa, moha (and the reduced versions of rāga, patigha, avijjā.) That word is san.” See details on “San” starting with a post on Feb 20, 2019:viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=990

Sandiṭṭhikaṃ Nibbānan – One Needs to “See Defilements” to Get to Nibbāna

3. One first needs to “see defilements” or “see ‘san’” (san diṭṭhika) to be able to see the path to Nibbāna.

- That is why the Buddha Dhamma is “sandiṭṭhika.” In the verse that points out the virtues of Buddha Dhamma, “..bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhīti” it is one of the qualities that makes Buddha Dhamma unique.
- One can experience the first stages of Nibbāna (cooling down of the mind) by “seeing the dangers of “san” and gradually getting rid of them.
- That is the Nibbāna that can be experienced in this life! It is easily reached, especially if one can see the drawbacks of “san” (greed, anger, delusion.)

4. That is what the Buddha explained to Jāṇussoṇi in the “Nibbuta Sutta (AN 3.55).” A reasonable English translation is “Nibbāna (AN 3.55)”:

- Jāṇussoṇi askes the Buddha, “Master Gotama, it is said: ‘Directly visible Nibbāna, directly visible Nibbāna.’ In what way is Nibbāna directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise?”
- As explained there, a mind with greed, hate, and delusion (ignorance about the real nature) “..experiences mental suffering and dejection.”
Thus if one can see the bad consequences of greed, hate, and delusion (or ‘san‘), one can reduce those and reach a “better state of mind.” It is a “cooled state of mind” with less agitation and would not experience depression.
- In particular, it is easy to recognize when greed and anger arise in one’s mind. The one should make an effort to control them. That is the basis of Ānāpāna and Satipaṭṭhāna meditations: “being mindful.”
- That is why Nibbāna is directly visible AND can be experienced in this life itself!

Ādittapariyāya Sutta (The Fire Sermon) Is About the “Fire in a Mind”

5. An English translation is at “Ādittapariyāya Sutta (The Fire Sermon)”: ... .nymo.html As with all English translations, it is a ‘word-by-word” translation without clarifying what is meant by that “fire.” (see other translations at Sutta Central: “Āditta Sutta (SN 35.28)“):

- It says, “The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning.” That may not make sense if one does not see that it is ATTACHMENT TO those 5 things that LEADS to “fires in the MIND.” Those 5 are associated with “seeing.”
- Even the direct translation says, “Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion.
Such 5 types of “sources of fire” arise with the other senses: hearing, tasting, smelling, body touches, and the mind itself.
- But all those 30 “sources of fire” ALWAYS lead to “fires in mind.” We MUST note that all 30 types of sensory experiences register in the mind!
It is the MIND that will burn (sooner or later) due to the actions one takes (kamma via saṅkhāra) with the desire for seeking pleasures with “seeing.’
- Some of that “burning” will materialize later in this life or even in future lives. That “potential to bring suffering” is deposited as “kammic energy,” and that is also the same as “bhava” (cause for future suffering)! That is a hard part of understanding. But we will get to that.

“Burning” (Tāpa) Has Root Cause in Rāga (Greed) and Dosa (Anger)

6. We attach to things that we like. This “attachment” is described in several ways by the Buddha: icchā, taṇhā, nandi, piya, kāma, etc. When exposed to such ‘likable things” in this world, we become joyful and try to get more of them, even using immoral deeds. Therein lies the problem.

- Those things in this world that lead to such attachment and joyful feelings are called “things with kāmaguṇa or “characteristics/sources of kāma.” We will discuss that soon.
- Even though they may provide temporary joy, they always lead to “heat/burning” (tāpa) in mind.
- The word “tappati” in the Dhammapada verse in #10 refers to a mind that is “heated/burning.”

Rāga and Dosa – Two Faces of a Coin

7. Rāga and dosa are like the two faces of a coin, and the coin itself is moha (avijjā.) As long as avijjā is there, rāga OR dosa can arise.

- Dosa (anger/hate/dislike) is the opposite of rāga (and lobha.) There are things that we don’t like in this world. Furthermore, we also dislike/hate people who get in our way in our efforts to seek more sensory pleasures.
- We tend to evaluate external objects (people or objects) based on their ability to provide us with enjoyment/happiness or whether they appear ugly/distasteful/tend to get in our way. Thus, we tend to put anything into one of those two categories: like/dislike. This is due to the root cause of moha. This explicit “measuring” or ‘evaluation” is “māna.”
- We do that “measuring” with the perception of “me” and trying to decide what will enhance “my enjoyment” and minimize “my displeasure.” - That is because of our avijjā or ignorance that such behavior will ONLY lead to future suffering.

Moha Is the Root Cause of Rāga and Dosa

8. Sometimes, the mind becomes uncertain (vicikicchā) about what to do. At other times, it becomes perturbed/excited (uddhacca) due to uncertainty about something. In such cases, only moha (or avijjā) is present.

- In other words, moha is the root cause of rāga, dosa, and all other asobhana cetasika.
- Furthermore, the deepest level of moha is in māna, uddhacca, avijjā. Those are removed only at the Arahant stage. It is one of the last five Saṃyojana (bonds to the saṃsāric process) of rupa rāga, arupa rāga, māna, uddhacca, avijjā.
- By the way, kāma rāga is removed at the Anāgāmi stage. When one becomes an “Arahant Anugāmi” at the next level, one loses rupa rāga and arupa rāga. It is only at the Arahant stage that one removes the last three: māna, uddhacca, and avijjā. Here, māna and uddhacca are the last traces of rāga and dosa left. Avijja is the last trace of moha removed that breaks ALL bonds to the rebirth process (saṃsāra.)

Avijjā and Taṇhā Go Together!

9. Because of our unwise perception of a “me,” we tend to attach to some things (rāga) and try to stay away from other things (dosa.) Either way, we are ‘mentally bound” to both types. We tend to think about ways to get likable things closer and to keep unlikable things away. Thus, taṇhā is involved in both cases. See, “Tanhā – How We Attach Via Greed, Hate, and Ignorance.” I will post this here in a few days since it is important.

- It is impossible to get rid of taṇhā as long as we do not comprehend the real nature of this world explained by the Buddha and thereby get rid of avijjā.
- The first step towards that understanding is to live a moral life and cleanse the mind. That will enable one to comprehend this ‘previously unheard” Dhamma: Why sensory pleasures (kāma) WILL invariably lead to future suffering.
- Therefore, we need to get to the next step of understanding dasa akusala and dasa kusala.
- Don’t worry too much about all these Pāli terms. They will become clear as we discuss further. There is no need to memorize. If you understand the concepts, they will become familiar.

Dasa Akusala and Dasa Kusala

10. The path to Nibbāna is to avoid immoral deeds or dasa akusala (“Ten Immoral Actions (Dasa Akusala)“) and to engage in meritorious deeds or dasa kusala (“Dasa Akusala/Dasa Kusala – Basis of Buddha Dhamma.”) Posts at Dhamma Wheel start on Nov 21, 2018:viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=735

The drawbacks of dasa akusala succinctly stated in the following Dhammapada verse:

Idha tappati, pecca tappati, - Agony now, agony hereafter,
pāpakārī ubhayattha tappati. - The wrong-doer suffers agony in both worlds.
Pāpaṃ me katan”ti tappati, - Agonized now by the knowledge that one has done wrong,
bhiyyo tappati, duggatiṃ gato. - one suffers more agony when gone to a state of woe.

In the same way, the benefits of dasa kusala will be evident in this life and future lives:

Idha nandati, pecca nandati, - Rejoicing now, rejoicing hereafter,
katapuñño ubhayattha nandati. - The doer of wholesome actions rejoices in both worlds.
Puññaṃ me katan”ti nandati, - Rejoicing now in the knowledge that one has acted morally,
bhiyyo nandati, suggatiṃ gato. - one rejoices more when gone to a state of bliss.

- We will discuss the relationship of rāga, dosa, moha to dasa akusala and dasa kusala in the next post.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

The following two short posts could be helpful in clarifying some key Pāli terms.

Lōbha, Rāga and Kāmacchanda, Kāmarāga

There are various names for greed in Pāli. Each has a different meaning, and the differences are significant. Let us look at the two terms “lōbha” and “rāga” first.

What is Lōbha?

1. Lōbha is the stronger term of the two. The word lōbha comes from “lo” + “bha” where “lo” implies “strong attraction” (like that of an ant to honey) and “bha” is for “bhava” (existence). One is firmly attached to this world with lōbha.

- Lōbha is an extreme form of greed. One can do highly-immoral deeds or “pāpa kamma” with lōbha. Such pāpa kamma could make one destined to the apāyā. See, “Kusala and Akusala Kamma, Punna and Pāpa Kamma.”)
- When someone has lōbha, it is exhibited in two ways:
(i) One wishes that all the “riches” should come to oneself and not to others (one may be already “rich” but wants more for oneself).
(ii) One is unwilling to donate even a little bit to the needy and does not share with even the family. It is said that no matter how much one has, some people want more. However, even poor people can have lōbha, especially for the things others have.

2. It is hard to quantify these, but the idea is that “lōbha” is the manifestation of the overbearing attachment to worldly things.

- Lōbha is one of 52 cētasika (mental factors).
- Abhijjhā (extreme greed) is the same as lōbha. The word abhijjhā comes from “abhi” + “icchā” or “strong liking/craving.”

Rāga is a Weaker Form of Lōbha

3. Rāga also arises because one believes there are pleasures to be had in staying in Saṃsāra (rebirth process). But one would NOT do highly-immoral things with just rāga. Here, “” means “giving priority” and “enjoying” a sensory experience. And “ga” means to touch or bind. One would like to keep enjoying that pleasure.

- When one is born rich (or acquires wealth) and enjoys life with sensory pleasures, that is not lōbha; that is just rāga. Such a person is not harming others. However, that rāga COULD lead to lōbha too.
- With lōbha, one could do highly immoral deeds (even if one is rich). If one is willing to kill, steal, lie, etc., to gain something one desires, then those are “apāyagāmikamma. One does not necessarily have to carry out these actions or speech. Just thinking about it and making abhisaṅkhāra (planning or even enjoying such thoughts) itself is lōbha. Thus even the poorest person can have lōbha.

What is Kāma and Kāma Rāga?

4. Pleasing things in this world are NOT kāma. Attaching to such things and generating conscious thoughts about them (saṅkappa) is kāma. In other words, kāma means attachment to the sensory pleasure available in the kāma lōka, i.e., those available to gratify the five senses. The word kāma is closely related to taṇhā and icchā.

- Then giving priority to kāma is kāma rāga.
- When one has kāma rāga, one likes to enjoy sense pleasures, but not at others’ expense. Thus when husband and wife engage in sexual activity, that is due to kāma rāga.
- Even the dēvas in dēva loka have kāma rāga. They like to enjoy sensory pleasures, but they don’t crave what others have. Thus, they do not have lōbha.
- Also, see, “Kāma Guna, Kāma, Kāma Rāga, Kāmacchanda” for more details.

Blinded by Kāma Is Kāmacchanda

5. Then there is kāmacchanda which is stronger than kāma rāga. It is like lōbha but focused on kāma.

-Kāmacchanda is the highest level of that attachment. Here one is willing to do abhorrent acts (killing, raping, etc.) to satisfy one’s desires.
- When one has developed kāma to the kāmacchanda level, one becomes unaware of the bad consequences of one’s actions. Kāmacchanda comes from kāma + iccha + anda, or “being blinded by sense attractions.” Here, “icchā” is liking, and “anda” is blind.
- It is said that “one loses one’s mind” when blinded by attachment to sense pleasures, i.e., one cannot think rationally when one has kāmacchanda.
- Thus, one needs to be mindful not to let one’s kāma rāga develop into kāmacchanda, which is one of the five hindrances that “cover the mind.”
- Inappropriate sexual activity (affairs outside marriage and rape) are done with kāmacchanda, i.e., when one becomes blind with kāma.
- Kāmacchanda is pronounced “kāmachchanda”.

Connection to Stages of Magga Phala

6. It is also helpful to see how these different levels of greed are removed at various stages of Nibbāna. This will give a better sense of differentiation.

- A Sōtapanna has permanently removed kāmacchanda and also does not have the worst level of lōbha. Thus he/she will not engage in “apāyagāmi” acts to gain sense pleasures. A Sōtapanna has not given up all three types of rāga: kāma rāga, rupa rāga, and arupa rāga.
- A Sakadāgāmi also has kāma rāga to a lesser extent; this is why he could be reborn in the kāma lōka for one more time.
- An Anāgami has removed kāma rāga; he will not return to any of the 11 kāma lōka realms, including the human and dēva realms, and will be reborn in a Suddhāvāsa realm in the rūpa loka, and will attain Nibbāna there.
- However, an Anāgami may still enjoy (but not attach to) sense pleasures, i.e., still has kāma; see #3 of, “Akusala Citta and Akusala Vipāka Citta.” This is a subtle point, but the point is that an Anāgami would still have the “four greed-based citta without wrong views,” and that is kāma. Those four akusala cittā are prevented from arising only for an Arahant.

7. Finally, some have given up the desire to enjoy pleasures in kāma lōka, but like jhānic pleasures. They are born in rūpa loka and arūpa loka and have rūpa rāga and arūpa rāga.

- Rūpa rāga and arūpa rāga are removed only at the Arahant stage, as discussed in “Akusala Citta and Akusala Vipāka Citta.”: ... aka-citta/
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha versus Rāga, Paṭigha, Avijjā

Lōbha, Dosa, and Mōha

1. Lōbha is extreme greed; see the previous post, “Lōbha, Rāga, and Kāmaccanda, Kāmarāga.” One is willing to do any immoral act to get what one wants. One can become blind by greed, i.e., kāmacchanda can arise.

- Dosa (or dvesha in Sanskrit) is the ANGER that arises based on initial lōbha. Here, dvesha comes from “devana” + “vesha” — දෙවන වේශය — or second manifestation of lōbha. We get angry when someone else is in the way of getting what we want.

2. One acts with lōbha or dōsa because one has mōha. Mōha comes from “muva” + “” which symbolizes a vessel with its mouth closed. Thus one cannot see what is inside. Similarly, one acts with mōha because one is unaware that such immoral acts will have horrible consequences. One’s mind is blocked and dark (cannot “see” clearly).

- When one has not removed the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi, one could act with mōha. The ten types of micchā diṭṭhi are discussed in “Mahā Cattārisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty).”
- In the pañca nīvaraṇa (five hindrances), abhijjhā and vyāpāda represent lōbha and dōsa. Those are synonymous terms for lōbha and dōsa; see, “Key to Calming the Mind – The Five Hindrances.”
- The word abhijjhā comes from “abhi” + “icchā” or “strong liking/craving.” The word vyāpāda comes from “vaya” + “pāda” or “on a downward path.”

Pāpa Kamma Done With Lōbha, Dosa, and Mōha

3. Actions carried out with lōbha, dōsa, and mōha are called pāpa kamma. They are stronger versions of akusala kamma. Such pāpa kamma makes one eligible to be born in the lower four worlds.

- Actions done with dōsa are the worst, with niraya (hell) as the possible destination, and lōbha is cause for rebirth in the preta (peta) lōka of hungry ghosts. Acts done with both lōbha and dōsa have all three “san” (since mōha is always there), and thus lead to rebirth in the animal or “tirisan” (“tiri”+”san” or all three “san”) realm.
- As one engages in moral actions and gets rid of one’s tendency (“gati”) to do immoral actions, one starts “cooling down,” and one’s likelihood of being born in the lower four realms diminishes.

Rāga, Paṭigha, Avijjā

4. However, lobha, dōsa, mōha permanently reduce to rāga, paṭigha, avijjā levels when one attains the Sōtapanna stage. All pañca nīvaraṇa permanently removed at the Sōtapanna stage.

- Of course, one is now able to “see” the real nature of the world (anicca, dukkha, anatta) to some extent (one is not blind), and thus mōha is reduced to avijjā level.
- As explained in the previous post, rāga is the craving for sense pleasures. See, “Lōbha, Rāga, and Kāmaccandha, Kāmarāga.”
- Of course, there are different levels here too, but in general, this level of greed makes one eligible only for birth in the human and deva worlds. Paṭigha is a lower level of hate, more like “friction.” One may get annoyed when someone and even say something in return, but will never do anything “horrible” that makes one eligible to be born in the lower four realms.

Kāma Rāga Is One Type of Rāga

5. At the next level of Nibbāna of the Sakadāgāmi level, kāma rāga, and paṭigha are both reduced to the extent that one will not be reborn in the human level, but only deva or higher realms.

- Kāma rāga is the rāga or craving for sense pleasures in the kāma lōka. There are two levels of kāma rāga: vatthu kāma (craving for OWNING objects that provide sense pleasures) and kilesa or kilesa kāma (craving for sense pleasures is there, but not necessary to “OWN THEM”). A Sakadāgāmi has lost the vatthu kāma, but still has kilesa kāma, i.e., he/she still craves for sense pleasures, but has no desire to “own them.” For example, a Sakadāgāmi may still like to live in a beautiful house with comforts, but the desire to “own the house” is not there.
- Above the human realm (in Deva and Brahma realms), beings have subtle bodies. They are not “solid” bodies like ours that are subjected to decay or diseases. Thus they never get sick or visibly old (but of course, death is inevitable to anyone anywhere in the 31 realms). That is why a Sakadāgāmi is said to be healthy forever (after human life).

Kāma Rāga is Removed at the Anāgāmi Stage

6. When one attains the Anāgāmi stage, both kāma rāga and paṭigha will no longer be present. Thus one will not even be offended by harsh words/acts and will not retaliate. An Anāgāmi will never be born anywhere in the kāma lōka including the deva worlds; they are reborn only in Brahma realms.

- While a Sōtapanna may still have some tendency to give priority to sense pleasures at certain times, all such habits are reduced at the Sakadāgāmi stage and removed at the Anāgāmi stage.

7. For an Anāgāmi, only rupa rāga and arupa rāga will be present. That means a desire for jhānic pleasures in the rupa and arupa lōka (the four rupa jhānā and four arupa jhānā). And he/she still has avijjā left to a certain extent together with māna (some level of pride) and uddhacca (some degree of sense of superiority).

- All these disappear at the Arahant stage. An Arahant is free from even a trace of defilements. Therefore, an Arahant will never be reborn in “this world” of kāma lōka, rupa lōka, or arupa lōka (anywhere in the 31 realms).
- That is why it is not productive to meditate, trying to eliminate the sense of “self” before the Sōtapanna stage. Many people incorrectly interpret anatta as “no-self.” But the feeling of “me” is removed only at the Arahant stage, after the Anāgāmi stage. As long as māna anduddhacca are there, the sense of “me” is still there.

Key to Getting to the Sōtapanna stage

8. To get to the Sōtapanna stage, one needs to realize the “three characteristics of nature.” One is the true meaning of anicca (that there is no point in hurting others to achieve temporary sense pleasures.) The second is that one will be subjected to much suffering (dukkha) without realizing the anicca nature. The third is that until one has that mindset, one is truly helpless in this round of rebirths (anatta). Until one comprehends them, it is POSSIBLE for any of the following to happen in the rebirth process:

- One could act with extreme greed (lōbha) to the extent of a hungry ghost (peta). Thus, one could get such a birth.
- Act with extreme hate (dōsa) in the heat of the moment and could even kill a human. That can lead to a rebirth in the niraya (hell).
One may not realize the unfruitfulness of depending on others. That includes cheating/stealing (without trying to make an honest living for oneself.) Thus, a birth in the asura realm is possible.
- It is even possible to cultivate “animal gati.” Those include having sex with young children or being able to kill/hurt others for one’s pleasure, etc. In this case, both lōbha and dōsa could be present. Thus one is not released from the animal realm.
- Those are the four lower realms. Thus one will be truly helpless (anatta) unless one removes such bad habits (“gati“). Until then, dukkha (suffering) will be there in the long-term, if not in this lifetime. Those are the true meanings of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by confusedlayman »

hi lal,

how panca nivarana permanently off at 1st stage? if craving, ill will etc eradication 1st stage, what is there beyond that?
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

how panca nivarana permanently off at 1st stage? if craving, ill will etc eradication 1st stage, what is there beyond that?
I believe your question is: "If pañca nīvaraṇa permanently removed at the Sotapanna stage, what else is there to remove at the higher stages?"

Pañca nīvaraṇa are: abhijjhā, vyāpāda, thina middha, uddacca kukkucca, and vicikicchā.

As explained in the above two posts, at the Sotapanna stage abhijjhā is only REDUCED to the raga (kama raga, rupa raga, and arupa raga) level. Vyāpāda is REDUCED to the patigha level.
- Also, uddacca cetasika is NOT removed. The nivarana of "uddaccha kukkucca" is NOT the same as "uddaccha". It is only at the Arahant stage that the uddaccha is removed.
- Only the "bad or asobhana cetasika" of "thina", "middha", and vicikiccha" are removed at the Sotapanna stage.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Pañca Nīvaraṇa and Sensual Pleasures (Kāma)

Pañca Nīvaraṇa (Five Hindrances) are defilements that “cover the mind” and make the mind agitated or lethargic and susceptible to make bad decisions. Craving for sensory pleasures is the root cause for the covering of the mind.

Why Are They Called “Hindrances”?

1. These five are indicators for “mental states.” When they become elevated, one can easily make “bad decisions.” Furthermore, it is difficult for a mind to focus on any subject or comprehend new concepts with the five hindrances at high levels.

- Pañca nīvaraṇa does not cover a mind all the time. They can be triggered under the influence of temptations.
- In such instances, one could be tempted to engage in dasa akusala to ANY extent, depending on the temptation level. One may even do strong immoral deeds (pāpa kamma) that make rebirth in the apāyās possible.
- The possibility of pañca nīvaraṇa arising will permanently go away when one attains the Sotapanna stage.
- That is why a Sotapanna is permanently released from the apāyās.
- However, getting to the Sotapanna stage REQUIRES seeing (or understanding) that craving for sensory pleasures (kāma) is the root cause of all suffering. Of course, even after "seeing" it (i.e., removing the wrong vision) a Sotapanna would still enjoy sensual pleasures because he had not removed the wrong perception (saññā).

What Is the “Previously Unheard Dhamma (Teachings)?”

2. The Buddha, in his first discourse, declared that his teachings had not been known to the world (in the absence of another Buddha.) That is the meaning of the verse, “‘Idaṃ dukkhaṃ ariyasaccan’ti me, bhikkhave, pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu.” OR “bhikkhus, this is the noble truth of suffering that was not heard before..” That highlighted part of the verse appears 12 times in the sutta (3 times each for the Four Noble Truths)!

- The “previously unheard teaching” is that even though sensory experiences can provide short-lived pleasures, they ALWAYS lead to suffering in the long-term (during this life and especially in the rebirth process.)
- The root cause for that suffering is the wrong view/perception of a “me” or sakkāya diṭṭhi. That view AND perception, in turn, arises because of the perceived “pleasure” in sensory experiences.
- We attach to worldly pleasures (with icchā/taṇhā) with that wrong view/perception BECAUSE we think they can provide long-lasting happiness. But the Buddha explained that there is hidden suffering in those pleasures. See the previous posts in “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi and Paṭicca Samuppāda.”
- Upon attaining the Buddhahood, the Buddha was able to see the minds of countless living-beings and was first discouraged that most of them would not be able to comprehend his teachings. Then he realized that some have the ability to comprehend his deep Dhamma.

Kāmato Jāyatī Soko Kāma Is a Root Cause of Suffering

3. “Dhammapada Verse 215“ ( provides the key idea:

Kāmato jāyatī soko - From desire, arises grief,
kāmato jāyatī bhayaṃ; - from desire arises fear;
Kāmato vippamuttassa, - Completely free from desire,
natthi soko kuto bhayaṃ. - there is no grief; how can there be fear?

- The above verse is the 7th verse in that link. The verses 4th through 8th are the same verses with synonymous words for kāma: piya, pema, rati (pronounced “rathi”), and taṇhā. We have discussed that icchā is also the same as taṇhā. In English, we can use words like desire, attachment, craving, liking, etc., to express the same meaning.
- There are pleasurable experiences. Those are NOT kāma. More details at, “What is “Kāma”? It is not Just Sex.” It is critical to read that post. I will post it here in a few days.
- The desire to accumulate more such experiences is kāma. That desire has no bounds. If temptations are high enough, we may take extreme immoral actions to fulfill such desires. That is when we get into trouble. But the key is to figure out how to stop such temptations. That CANNOT be done with willpower.
- With that in mind, let us look into pañca nīvaraṇa.

What Are Pañca Nīvaraṇa?

4. Pañca nīvaraṇa are: Kāmacchanda, vyāpāda (or byāpāda), thina-middha, uddhacca-kukkucca, and vicikicchā. See “Āvaraṇanīvaraṇa Sutta (SN 46.38).”:

- In the sutta, the Buddha used two words, “āvaraṇā" and "nīvaraṇā” to describe these five. The word “āvaraṇā” means “to cover (the mind.)” When the mind is covered, it cannot grasp Buddha’s teachings, and thus Nibbana (or cooling down) is prevented (the meaning of “nīvaraṇā.”)
- When a mind is “covered,” one cannot clearly see the consequences of one’s actions. It is like looking through a fog. One cannot see what lies ahead.
- Removing pañca nīvaraṇa from one’s mind is like lifting a fog. One can see far ahead with much clarity.
- But how do those 5 things cover a mind? We need to figure that out before we can remove them.

Kāmacchanda Is the Main Nīvaraṇa

5. Kāmacchanda is stronger than kāma rāga. It is like lōbha but focused on kāma.

- Kāmacchanda is the highest level of attachment. Here one is willing to do abhorrent acts (killing, raping, etc.) to satisfy one’s desires.
- When kāma rises to the kāmacchanda level, one becomes unaware of the bad consequences of one’s actions. Kāmacchanda comes from kāma + icchā + anda, or “being blinded by sensory attractions.” Here, “icchā” is liking, and “anda” is blind.
- It is said that “one loses one’s mind” when blinded by attachment to sense pleasures, i.e., one cannot think rationally when one has kāmacchanda.
- See, “Lōbha, Rāga and Kāmacchanda, Kāmarāga.”

Vyāpāda Is a Consequence of Kāmacchanda

6. The second nīvaraṇa, vyāpāda, arises because of kāmacchanda. But it is a different manifestation. Instead of becoming lustful, one becomes hateful and angry.

- That anger arises when one is prevented from satisfying one’s desire for sensual pleasures. Patigha (or displeasure) is a lower level of vyāpāda and is not a nīvaraṇa. One does not do “apāyagāmi deeds” with patigha.
- We have heard about people killing others to get their wealth or their spouses or other loved ones. That happens when one’s mind becomes overwhelmed with kāmacchanda.
- Dosa (or dvesha in Sanskrit or Sinhala) is the ANGER that arises based on initial lōbha. Here, dvesha comes from “devana” + “vesha” — දෙවන වේශය — or second manifestation of lōbha. We get angry when someone else is in the way of getting what we want. This statement is from “Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha versus Rāga, Paṭigha, Avijjā.“
- With dosa, one will inevitably take a “downward path.” That is the meaning of vyāpāda (“vaya” or ‘downward”+ “pāda” or “direction.”) Thus, vyāpāda is the same as dosa.

Other Three Nīvaraṇa Also Have Roots in Kāmacchanda

7. When one gets attached to sensory pleasures, one’s mind becomes dull (Pali word is thina.) Because of that, the mind gets stuck (middha.)

- Thus, thina-middha refers to a mind that has become lethargic and stuck. Such a mind would not be able to focus on anything, let alone difficult concepts. A good example is those addicted to watching movies, TV, sports, etc., all day. Their minds are stuck. Some people forget even to eat.
- A different manifestation is uddhacca-kukkucca. Here, one becomes “high-minded” (uddhacca) with perceived wealth or power and starts doing lowly deeds (kukkucca.) For example, a powerful politician or a wealthy person may engage in “lowly deeds” like bribery, rape, etc.
- A mind is susceptible to cravings for sensory pleasures because it has no true faith in Buddha Dhamma. It is not certain that the concepts in Buddha Dhamma are correct. For example, there are doubts about the laws of kamma or rebirth. Having such doubts is vicikicchā. Such doubts will go away only when one comprehends the Four Noble Truths.
- Further details at, “Key to Calming the Mind – The Five Hindrances.”

Noble Truth on Suffering – Kāma Is the Root Cause of Suffering

8. A key aspect of comprehending Noble Truths is to see that kāma (craving for sensory pleasures) is the root cause of future suffering.

- It is embedded in the verse that describes the root cause of suffering: "yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhāṃ" (“Yam pi icchaṃ na labhati tam pi dukkhaṃ”. See, "Essence of Buddhism – In the First Sutta."
Yam pi icchaṃ“ means “whatever is liked or craved for”. “Na labhati” means “not getting”. “tam pi dukkhaṃ” means “that leads to suffering”.
- Therefore, that verse simply says: “If one does not get what one craves or likes, that leads to suffering.”
- Note that kāma arises due to icchā.

Importance of Getting Rid of Micchā Diṭṭhi

9. Micchā Diṭṭhi has TWO levels. Not knowing that kāma is the root cause of suffering is the deeper level of micchā diṭṭhi

- First, one needs to get rid of the 10 types of wrong views that include not believing in the laws of kamma and rebirth. The deeper level of wrong views is removed when one becomes a Sotapanna and realizes that attachment to worldly things only leads to future suffering, i.e., understand the Four Noble Truths.
- That deeper level of micchā diṭṭhi starts fading away when one becomes a Sotapanna. At that point, ALL FIVE nīvaraṇa are removed permanently.
- An average human (puthujjano) thinks exactly the opposite way; That one should live FOR sensory pleasures. That is why it is so hard to change that ingrained mindset. But it is not that different from the mindset of a fish who only thinks about the tasty bait and does not see the hidden dangers in biting into that tasty bait.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

What is “Kāma”? It is not Just Sex

Kāma means “saṅkappa rāga” or “thinking about and planning to enjoy more sensual pleasures.” Another related meaning is “giving priority to mind-made pleasures.”

Kāma Is Assigning High Value for Sensory Pleasures in Kāma Loka

1. “Kāma” comes from “” meaning “eat or destroy” and “ama” means Nibbāna. In our human world, which is a part of “kāma loka“, temptations for staying away from Nibbāna come from five physical senses.

- Some people believe “kāma” is just about engaging in sex. Some others believe attractive sense objects are “kāma” objects, and those lead to defilements. Both are not correct.
- While “attractive sense objects” can lead to “kāma assāda” or “mind-made pleasures”, the objects themselves don’t have kāma. An Arahant is not tempted by any such object. But an Arahant would eat a delicious meal offered, but would not crave such meals.
- Furthermore, an Arahant gets to that stage by learning and contemplating Dhamma (cultivating wisdom) and NOT by living a harsh life.
The lowest 11 realms are collectively called “kāma lōka” because all such made-up pleasures are available through all five physical senses in those realms.

Sensory Experiences are Not Kāma

2. This is a critical point to understand. There are sensory contacts that naturally bring pleasurable FEELINGS. For example, eating a cake or smelling a rose gives a pleasurable feeling. That experience itself is not kāma or kāma rāga.

- Rather, it is the DESIRE to enjoy more of those sensory experiences is kāma. That is why the word “icchā” and “taṇhā‘ are closely associated with kāma/kāma rāga.
- In the “Na Santi Sutta (SN 1.34)“, the Buddha defined “kāma” as that second kind mentioned above: “Na te kāmā yāni citrāni loke, Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo..”.
Translated: “World’s pretty things are not kāma, a person creates his/her own kāma by generating mind-made pleasures (rāga saṅkappa)..”.

- Buddha said that this world has many attractive pictures, sounds, tastes, smells, and touches. But those are not “kāma”. The initial sense experience could be pleasant, but it is a kamma vipāka (no saṅkhāra generated in the initial sense input).
- When one attaches to such a sensory experience and keep thinking about them, one makes “saṅkappa rāga” (සංකල්පිත රාග in Sinhala) about it (by generating vaci and kāya saṅkhāra), that is “kāma”. Each person generates his/her own kāma based on his/her gati or samsāric habits/cravings.

Saṅkappa Rāga Is Kāma

3. We experience those external sensory inputs in two ways:

- We experience them directly: For example, we see a person; hear a song; taste a piece of cake; smell a fragrance; someone we love gives a kiss. Those are actual sense contacts and are due to kamma vipāka.
- But then we tend to re-live that experience over and over in our MINDS. You may be surprised, but most of our “sense pleasures” or “kāma assāda” are created by our minds. A sensory contact comes and goes away relatively quickly; but we keep thinking about it, sometimes for hours. This “kāma assāda” is the one that we CREATE IN OUR MINDS, via vaci saṅkhāra.
- For example, we may just see an attractive item in a store display that provides sensory pleasure while we are looking at it for a few seconds.
- But then we start thinking about how nice it would be to be able to buy it, enjoy it, and analyze how to go about paying for it, etc. We may be thinking about it for several days. Please take the time and contemplate this point.
- The initial sense contact of several seconds led to hours of thinking about it and making up “additional pleasure”. That is kāma assāda.

What Are Saṅkappa?

4. Let us discuss what is meant by “saṅkappa rāga“: Saṅkappa means thoughts. Rāga means giving a high-priority (craving) for pleasures in samsāra; see, “Lobha, Raga and Kamachanda, Kamarāga“.

- Thus “saṅkappa rāga” means thinking about such sense pleasures and giving priority to them. We tend to think for hours about an actual sensory experience that we enjoyed in the past or one that we are about to experience in the future.
- Sometimes we also think for hours about how to enjoy a certain sense experience that seems out of reach for various reasons. In all these cases, we can spend hours and hours thinking about them and getting kāma assāda (or”āsvāda” in Sinhala) from it.
- In fact, most times sexual enjoyment comes from just thinking about a past experience or an anticipated one. The actual contact pleasure is relatively short-lived.

Pleasurable Sensory Experiences Due to Good Kamma Vipāka

5. As we pointed out in #3 above, some actual sense contacts arise due to kamma vipāka (good kamma vipāka lead to good sense experiences and bad lead to bad). Those are not kāma or kāma assāda.

- Even an Arahant experiences such sense experiences due to kamma vipāka, both good and bad. He/she may eat tasty food when offered, ride in a luxurious car, or see eye-catching pictures while on the road.
- But he/she will not keep thinking about how to enjoy such sense experiences, i.e., there is no “saṅkappa rāga“.

6. It is relatively easy to distinguish between sense pleasures due to kamma vipāka and those due to kāma assāda.

- When one is offered a tasty meal, for example, that is due to a previous good kamma, i.e., it is a kamma vipāka. But when one starts thinking how good that meal was and starts thinking about how to enjoy another such meal, that is kāma assāda.
- In the same way, one may be born to a wealthy family and get all types of luxurious sense contacts, those are kamma vipāka.
- Whether rich or poor, when one is thinking about acquiring and enjoying new sense pleasures or reminiscing on past sense pleasures, that is kāma assāda.

What Is Wrong With Kāma Assāda or Saṅkappa Rāga?

7. Now we have two questions.

A. Why is it OK to experience direct sense pleasures that naturally comes one’s way, but not good to enjoy “made-up mental pleasures” by thinking about them? (It is important to realize that even those direct sense pleasures INITIATED by oneself do not count as harmless; when we think about it a bit, we realize that such instances have their beginnings at “saṅkappa rāga“, i.e., one must have thought about to initiate it).

B. How can one experience an enjoyable sensory pleasure and not be “tempted by it”, i.e., not make “saṅkappa rāga“?

8. The answers to those two questions can be found in one explanation. But that requires analyzing the situation from a different vantage point than we are used to. This is the “Dhamma that has never been known to the world..” or “pubbē ananussutēsu Dhammēsu..”.

- The akusala-mula Paṭicca samuppāda cycle starts with, “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra“. Those “made-up mental pleasures” or “kāma assāda” are precisely what saṅkhāra are. These have bad consequences, or ādīnava, through the rest of the Paṭicca samuppāda (PS) cycle: “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāna“, “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa,…..up to “jāti paccayā jarā, marana, sōka, paridēva,…”. Thus the endpoint is suffering.
- When we experience a “direct sense contact” that naturally comes our way, that is not saṅkhāra or kāma assāda. That is a kamma vipāka. They do not lead to future suffering.
- In other words, saṅkhāra in “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” is saṅkappa rāga. They eventually lead to suffering. That is the hard point to understand.

Early Comprehension – Agitation of the Mind Due to Excess “Sensory Pleasures”

9. Now, one could say, “well, the more such saṅkappa rāga that I make, it is better. I don’t mind if the mind gets many such assāda in a given time”.

- In order to analyze that, we need to look at the ādīnava (bad consequences) of such assāda, other than the mind being pushed and pulled in many directions as we discussed in the previous bullet.
- If you watch too many movies/ TV shows or play video games all day, your mind will be agitated. You may not get a good sleep. This is the key reason for the scattered-ness of our minds. This is called tāpa or “heat in the mind”; see, “Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta – Relevance to Suffering in This Life“.
- The problem is that each time we enjoy kāma assāda, we do (abhi)saṅkhāra, as we saw above. They lead to future suffering via the akusala-mula Paṭicca samuppāda cycle. This is what we have been doing in countless births up to now.

10. That future suffering can arise both in this life as well as in future lives. It can materialize at different levels depending on the “strength of the kāma assāda“.

- Let us start at the most extreme level. One decides that “I have to have this. I am going to do whatever it takes to get it”. With such a mindset one can kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, lie, or make any number of other immoral acts with a “drunken mind” or a "covered mind."
- Of course, the bad consequences are many, even during this life. One could get caught and go to jail. Even otherwise, one will be under the constant stress of worrying about being caught.
- But stronger consequences will follow in future lives as well, with interest. Thus a normal moral person can see the “ādīnava” in such strong kāma assāda.
- By contemplating on such “ādīnava“, it becomes easier for one’s mind to automatically reject doing such acts. That is “nissarana“. Through an understanding of the consequences, one avoids such acts.

Long-Term Consequences of Craving “Sensory Pleasures”

11. At the next level, we may not do any of the immoral acts by body or speech, but may still accumulate vaci saṅkhāra via constantly thinking about them. It is important to realize that such conscious thoughts (vitakka/vicāra) are included in vaci saṅkhāra; see, “Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra“ on Nov 03, 2018 (p.43)

- The problem with vaci saṅkhāra or kāma assāda is that they are addictive. One can spend hours and hours enjoying past sense events of perceived future events (especially involving sex, food, and also about one’s enemies).
- And vaci saṅkhāra or kāma assāda appear to be harmless. No one else can know about them. One could spend hours on end generating kāma assāda about an object of interest and derive enjoyment. But they have consequences.
- It must also be remembered that all those kāya saṅkhāra and vaci saṅkhāra that one suppressed by one’s will power started off as manō saṅkhāra (thoughts that just come to one’s mind) and then one normally “keeps going” by generating CONSCIOUS deliberate thoughts or vaci saṅkhāra, which can lead to actual speech and even bodily actions.
- Thus even though dasa akusala corresponding to speech and bodily actions were avoided, those due to vaci saṅkhāra (kāma assāda) would still count as bad kamma.
- This is why keeping the conventional five precepts is not sufficient; the hard part is to purify one’s thoughts or the mind; see, “The Five Precepts – What the Buddha Meant by Them“.

Connection to Āsava and Anusaya

12. A key problem with vaci saṅkhāra or the kāma assāda is that they lead to the formation of bad habits (gati), which in turn lead to the formation of new āsava/anusaya or in strengthening old āsava/anusaya. The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas) Oct 25, 2018 (p.43) See, the post on habits (Pali word “gati”, but gati is more than habits) on August 18, 2018 (p. 22), "How Habits are Formed and Broken – A Scientific View"  Nov 28, 2018 (p. 50), and other related posts and discussions in those pages.

- It can become a vicious circle. In a way, this is the “wheeling process” of “riya” that sustains the cycle of rebirths; see, “Nibbāna – Is it Difficult to Understand?“. At Dhamma Wheel, Nibbāna meaning explained October 1, 2018 (p. 34)
- Even though vaci saṅkhāra (abhijjā, vyāpāda, micchā diṭṭhi) seem to be harmless, those can lead to birth in the apāyā.
- When one starts controlling such conscious thoughts (vaci saṅkhāra), one gati will gradually change, and then those “automatic bad thoughts” or manō saṅkhāra will become less and less frequent because one’s āsava/anusaya will gradually reduce.
- The best and permanent way to change āsava/anusaya is to comprehend anicca, dukkha, anatta. When one realizes that “nothing in this world can be maintained to one’s satisfaction in the long run” (anicca), one’s mind automatically stops thinking about such “made up pleasures”.

13. Connection to pañca nīvaraṇa discussed at, “Pañca Nīvaraṇa and Sensual Pleasures (Kāma).”
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

This is one of the most important posts that I have posted.
– It explains the key message of the Buddha, which is not easy for an average human to understand.
– But if one is truly interested in attaining Nibbāna, this post must be understood.

Icchā, Taṇhā, Kāma – Root Causes of Suffering

An average human sees and perceives sensual pleasures are to be pursued. The Buddha taught that craving for sensual pleasures is the root cause of suffering. However, sensual pleasures can be experienced without having cravings for them.

Difference Between Kāma and Sensory Pleasures

1. As we discussed in the post, “What is “Kāma”? It is not Just Sex,” there is a huge difference between kāma and “good sensory experiences.”

- Kāma is the DESIRE/CRAVING to enjoy more of those sensory experiences. That is why the word “icchā” and “taṇhā" are closely associated with kāma and kāma rāga.
- Wealthy people, including Kings, offered the Buddha tasty meals. Jetavanārāmaya, where the Buddha lived for many years, was built like a palace.
- Of course, the Buddha decided to spend the last several months of his life traveling, even while suffering some ailments. He could have stayed in Jetavanārāmaya or one of many such temples. He probably wanted to illustrate the suffering that he himself was experiencing in his old age.
- The Buddha’s main message was that one would not be free of future suffering as long as one does not see the long-term bad consequences of sensory pleasures. But, one needs to get there in a step-by-step way. It is impossible to give up sensory pleasures willfully. One MUST first SEE the bad consequences of craving sensory pleasures.

The Analogy of a Drunkard

2. Let us consider person X an alcoholic. He likes to drink whenever he gets a chance because it is a pleasurable experience for him.

- When X goes to a physical exam, he is asked about his alcohol consumption. Upon hearing how much X drinks, the physician advises him to cut down on drinking.
- Yet, X has a hard time getting rid of the habit. He tries hard to “cut down,” but he is back to his routine drinking after a few days.
- One day, he experiences severe abdominal pain and swelling. When admitted to the hospital, his physician takes a scan of his liver and explains to him that it has been damaged and that except for the brain, the liver is the most complex organ in the body. The physician explains that he will have serious health problems soon unless he stops drinking.

(i) Now, for the first time, X “sees” the dangers in drinking alcohol and can cut down his drinking habit drastically. He has lost “diṭṭhi vipallāsa” or “wrong/distorted views” regarding drinking.

(ii) After a year, X goes for a checkup, and the physician asks him about his drinking habit. X says he does not drink as much as he used to because he is afraid of dying at a young age. But he says he still likes to drink and would have a drink when the urge becomes too strong. He still has “saññā vipallāsa” or “wrong/distorted perceptions” regarding drinking.

- The doctor gives the following advice: (i) keep contemplating on the dangers of damaging his liver and (ii) also keep contemplating on the relief that he has gained by stop drinking (no more abdominal pain/swelling, etc.), (iii) don’t associate with those who like to drink, (iv) associate with those who don’t drink in excess.
- Following the advice of the physician, X gradually loses his desire to drink. After several months, he realizes that the desire to “have a drink” is not there anymore. Now he has lost “saññā vipallāsa” regarding drinking as well.

The Similarities in the Noble Path

3. Humans (and all living beings) are like the alcoholic X in the analogy in #2 above. They can only see the “immediate pleasures” that mind-pleasing things in this world provide.

- The Buddha is like the physician who can see the dangers of that mindset. But it is hard to convince an average human that craving those “mind-pleasing things” can be not only unfruitful but also WILL HAVE dangerous consequences in the future.
- A Sotapanna learns the dangers of kāma assāda from a true disciple of the Buddha (an Ariya.) That transition to the Sotapanna stage happened when he started “seeing” the dangers of kāma assāda.
- There is one difference between the two cases: Unlike the physician who was able to take a scan of the damaged liver and convince X of the dangers, it is harder to explain the dangers to those who don’t even believe in rebirth. However, once that stage is reached, the similarities are there as below.

(i) A Sotapanna “seeing the dangers in craving sensory pleasures” is similar to X, who started “seeing the dangers in heavy drinking.” He has now removed diṭṭhi vipallāsa about "sensual pleasures."

- There is a second difference between the two cases: While it is possible for X to “lose his willpower” and to go back to his “old ways” of being an alcoholic, the mindset of a Sotapanna WILL NEVER change, even in the future lives.

(ii) Analogous to X, a Sotapanna still has not removed the MINDSET (saññā vipallāsa) that sensory pleasures can provide “enjoyment.” Of course, he/she will not engage in immoral deeds to experience such sensory pleasures.

- Similar to X, a Sotapanna should contemplate the drawbacks of craving worldly pleasures (i.e., contemplate anicca, dukkha, anatta nature or engage in aniccānupassanā, dukkhānupassanā, anattānupassanā) and associate with like-minded people striving for Nibbāna.
- As he contemplates the drawbacks of craving worldly pleasures, saññā vipallāsa fades away and one day he/she attains the Anāgāmi stage by completely eliminating saññā vipallāsa. After that, any desire for sensual pleasures will be gone.
- Many people have a hard time understanding the difference between diṭṭhi vipallāsa and saññā vipallāsa. I hope the above analogy is useful.

Difference Between Kāmacchanda and Kāma Rāga

4. Another way to express the above is the following. A Sotapanna has removed kāmacchanda, but kāma rāga remains. When diṭṭhi vipallāsa is removed, one would NOT be “blinded” by sensual pleasures, i.e., kāmacchanda removed. But the tendency to like sensual pleasures (kāma rāga) remains because saññā vipallāsa is still there.

- Thus, a Sotapanna can live the normal life of a householder. He/she can be married and bring up a family.
- Only when kāma rāga intensifies may one be tempted to engage in activities harmful to others and oneself. That becomes likely when one drinks too much alcohol or takes drugs. A Sotapanna would instinctively abstain from such activities.
- Association with “bad friends” could make an average person engage in harmful activities. For example, hunting and fishing are immoral activities to be abstained from. Such activities are considered to be accepted “sports activities,” and many people engaged in such activities without realizing the dangers. Such activities fall under the “vihiṃsā” category (hurting other living beings for one’s pleasure) in Buddha Dhamma.
- Note that vihiṃsā is different from vyāpāda. With vyāpāda, one does immoral deeds with anger/hate. Actions with vihiṃsā are done with ignorance (avijjā.)

Jhāna Correspond to Mindset of Brahmas Who Have Overcome Kāma

5. One is born in Brahma realms when one has cultivated jhāna. To cultivate jhāna, one must overcome kāma at least temporarily.

- Thus, one must at least temporarily suppress kāma rāga to cultivate jhāna. In fact, one MUST abstain from kāma, vyāpāda, and vihiṃsā saṅkappa (i.e., abstain from thoughts involving sensual, angry, or otherwise harmful thoughts towards other living beings.
- This is why a Brahma in any Brahma realm is free of kāma rāga, vyāpāda, and vihiṃsā thoughts during that Brahma existence. But unless they have attained magga phala, they have all three “hidden” or “temporarily suppressed” during that existence (as anusaya.)
- That is just a “side-track” to show the connection to jhāna.

Difference Between an Average Human and a Noble Person

6. The following table shows what we discussed above in summary form. The first and second columns show an average human and a Noble Person (Ariya). The four rows for the Noble Person depict the Four Noble Truths, as indicated by the third column.


- The First Noble Truth states what suffering is. It is not the suffering that one FEELS. Sensual pleasures are devoid of value and cause suffering even during this life (by stressing the mind). Of course, more suffering will materialize in future lives too.
- The root cause of suffering in this life, and future lives, is craving sensory pleasures (kāma). That is the Second Noble Truth.
- The average human (puthujjano) believes that lack of sensual pleasures is suffering. That is why he/she strives for more sensory pleasures. But the Third Noble Truth says that all suffering can be stopped by losing cravings for sensory pleasures (kāma.)
- Average human (puthujjano) cannot understand why a Noble Person lives a life staying away from sensual pleasures. He/she perceives such a life to be suffering. But the Noble Person lives a stress-free life and is free from the births in the apāyā where there is unimaginable suffering. The way to become a Noble Person (i.e., the way to lose cravings) is the Eightfold Noble Path. That is the Fourth Noble Truth.
- Again, remember that kāma means “saṅkappa rāga” or “having a mindset that sensual pleasures (and even jhānic pleasures) are beneficial. Of course, one must first remove the craving for sensual pleasures (kāma rāga) before tackling rupa rāga and arupa rāga (cravings for jhānic pleasures.)

Icchā Is the Root Cause of Suffering – In the First Sutta

7. In his first sutta, the Buddha defined suffering to arise originating with icchā. The First Noble Truth is stated as: “jātipi dukkhā, jarāpi dukkhā, byādhipi dukkho, maraṇampi dukkhaṃ, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ—saṃkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā.” See, “Essence of Buddhism – In the First Sutta.”

- There, he stated that suffering arises when one does not get the desired outcome: “yam pi icchāṃ na labhati tam pi dukkhaṃ” OR “one suffers when one does not get (na labhati) what one desired (icchāṃ.)
- Because of that desires (icchā), one would try to keep close (upādāna) those things that one desires. Those things are parts of the pañckkhandhā that one likes, i.e., pañcupādānakkhandhā.
- For details, see “Icchā (Cravings) Lead to Upādāna and to Eventual Suffering.” ON Dec 22, 2019 (p. 77).

8. The connection between icchā, taṇhā, and kāma comes in the Second Noble Truth on how that suffering arises: “yāyaṃ taṇhā ponobbhavikā nandirāgasahagatā tatratatrābhinandinī, seyyathidaṃ—kāma taṇhā, bhava taṇhā, vibhava taṇhā.”

- Because of the icchā (or liking/desire), we get attached (taṇhā): “it is this attachment (taṇhā) which leads to renewed existence. That taṇhā is just for those delightful things in this world (kāma taṇhā), for continued existence (for those who believe in rebirth, i.e., [i]bhava taṇhā[/i]), and for optimum pleasures while this life lasts (for those who do not believe in rebirth, i.e., vibhava taṇhā)
- Here we note that kāma taṇhā is common to both groups with bhava taṇhā and vibhava taṇhā.

9. The Third Noble Truth states how that suffering can be stopped from arising (nirodha): “yo tassāyeva taṇhāya asesa virāga nirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo” OR “it is the remainder-less fading away and cessation of that taṇhā, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, losing all affection for it.”

- Of course, the way to stop future suffering is in the Fourth Noble Truth: “ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo, seyyathidaṃ—sammādiṭṭhi … pe … sammāsamādhi” OR ” it is this Noble Eightfold Path. That is, Sammā Diṭṭhi … Sammā Samādhi.

Icchā, Taṇhā, Kāma – Can be Removed Only via Noble Eightfold Path

10. The key point here is that those three (icchā, taṇhā, and kāma) CANNOT be removed directly by willpower or rituals. First, one needs to comprehend WHY icchā, taṇhā, and kāma GIVE RISE to suffering. That is the first step in the Noble Eightfold Path: Sammā Diṭṭhi.

- Once that is understood, one will automatically follow the Noble Path. First, one will think accordingly (Sammā Saṅkappa.) Then the rest will also follow. One will speak (Sammā Vācā), act (Sammā Kammanta), make an effort (Sammā Vāyāma), live (Sammā Ājiva), with that mindset (Sammā Sati). Then one will automatically get to Sammā Samādhi.
- There are two descriptive ways to understand the suffering hidden in icchā, taṇhā, and kāma. One is to comprehend Paṭicca Samuppāda, and the other is to comprehend Tilakkhana.
- Of course, those two ways are inter-related. That will become more clear as we proceeded. It should already be clear to some extent by now.

11. The current series of posts started with the post, "Nibbāna – Rāgakkhaya Dosakkhaya Mohakkhaya – Part 1" on Feb 20, 2021.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Essence of Buddhism – In the First Sutta


1. In the very first discourse that he delivered, “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11)“, the Buddha laid out the “foundational aspects” or the essence of Buddha Dhamma.

- These days, there are many discussions about what is meant by Nibbāna. In particular, “secular Buddhists” who do not believe in rebirth try to provide their interpretations. But as we will discuss below, Buddha’s position is crystal clear from this sutta.
- Some people have doubts about the existence of beings in realms other than the human and animal realms and whether life exists outside the Solar system, i.e., the Earth. This sutta clarifies both, as we will see below.

A Sutta Is a Highly Condensed Summary

2. Some people think that the Buddha recited each sutta (as it appears in the Tipitaka) when delivering a discourse. This could be why suttā are translated word-by-word by most people today. But that is far from the truth.

- For example, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta was delivered to the five ascetics over several days. See “The Life of the Buddha” by Bhikkhu Nānamoli.”
- Only Ven. Kondañña attained the Sōtapanna stage during the first night. Then the material was discussed for several days. The other four ascetics attained the Sōtapanna stage over several days.
- The above book contains many passages from the Vinaya Piṭaka of the Tipiṭaka, which provide many details not available in the suttā. It also provides the timeline of major suttā and significant events.

3. Therefore, the Buddha did not recite the sutta as it appears in the Tipiṭaka. That recital would have been finished within 15 minutes!

- It will take many people a lifetime to fully understand this sutta.
- It appears that the Buddha himself summarized the material in each sutta in a short, concise way to a limited number of verses that were suitable for oral transmission (easy to remember); see, “Sutta – Introduction.”
- We must remember that all the suttā in the Tipitaka were transmitted down orally by many generations. Tipitaka was written down about 500 years after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha. See “Preservation of the Dhamma.”

A Sutta Needs to be Explained in Detail

4. It is only a summary of a sutta that is in the Tipitaka. Many of the suttā are highly condensed and need to be discussed in detail. It is not reasonable to assume that one could understand a sutta by just reading a word-by-word translation of a few pages of the sutta.

- However, that is what happens these days. Suttas are translated word-by-word into English. This is a terrible practice. It is no different from just reciting a sutta!
- Some of these deep suttā need to be explained in detail. Even a single key verse needs to be explained in detail.

First Noble Truth in Just a Single Verse!

5. Now, let us look at how the Buddha summarized the First Noble Truth about suffering in that sutta.

"Idam kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ ariya saccam:

jātipi dukkhā, jarāpi dukkhā, byādhipi dukkho, maraṇampi dukkhāṃ, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhāṃsaṃkhittena pañcu­pādā­nak­khan­dhā dukkhā

Translated: Bhikkhus, What is the Noble Truth of Suffering?

Birth is suffering, getting old is suffering, getting sick is suffering, dying is suffering. Having to associate with things that one does not like is suffering, and having to separate from those things one likes is suffering. If one does not get what one likes, that is suffering – in brief, the origin of suffering is the craving for the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāna (pancupādānakkhandha). All we crave for in this world are represented by pancupādānakkhandha (upādāna or craving for the pancakkhandha).

- There are four sections in that verse. I have highlighted alternating sections to explain each of the four below.

The Key Aspects of Suffering

6. The first part in bold indicates what we consider to be forms of suffering: Birth, getting old, getting sick, and dying.

- Every birth ends up in death. This is why birth is included in suffering. All births — without exception — end up in death.
- We also DO NOT LIKE to get old, get sick, and definitely do not like to die. If we have to experience any of them, that is suffering.
- We WOULD LIKE it to stay young, not get old, not get sick, and not die ever. If we can have those conditions fulfilled, we will be forever happy.
- Therefore, it is clear that the suffering that the Buddha focused on in his first discourse was associated with the rebirth process.

Root Cause of Suffering – Not Getting What One Desires

7. Anyone can see that not getting what one desires is suffering.

- The second part of the verse in #5 (in red) says: Having to associate with things that one does not like is suffering, and having to separate from those things one likes is suffering.

8. That part in #7 is stated in one succinct statement in the third part of the verse in #5 (in bold): “yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ.”

Yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ” is actually a shortened version of the verse (that rhymes).
The full sentence is “Yam pi icchaṃ na labhati tam pi dukkhaṃ.”

- “Yam pi icchaṃ“ means “whatever is liked or craved.” “Na labhati” means “not getting.” “tam pi dukkhaṃ” means “that leads to suffering.”
- Therefore, that verse says: “If one does not get what one craves or likes, that leads to suffering.”
- This is a more general statement and applies in any situation. We can see that in our daily lives. We like to hang out with people we like, and it is a stress to be with people that we do not like.
- Furthermore, the more one craves something, and the more suffering one will endure at the end. But this requires a lot of discussions.
- Note that “iccha” (and “icca“) is pronounced “ichcha.” See, “Tipitaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1” and Part 2 referred to there; Feb 08, 2020 (p. 78) : viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1155

Yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ

9. “Yampiccam nalabhati tampi dukkhaṃ” verse gets us closer to the deeper meaning of the First Noble Truth on suffering.

- Note that icca and iccha (ඉච්ච and ඉච්ඡ in Sinhala) are used interchangeably in the Tipitaka. The word “iccha” with the emphasis on the last syllable indicates “strong icca” or “strong attachment.”
- The word “icca” (liking) is closely related to “taṇhā” (getting attached). Tanhā happens automatically because of icca.
- Not getting what one desires or craves is the opposite of “icca” or “na icca” or “anicca.” This is the same way that “na ā­gami” becomes “Anā­gā­mi” (“na ā­gami” means “not coming back”; but in the context of Anā­gā­mi, it means “not coming back to kā­ma lōka or the lowest 11 realms. Both these are examples of Pāli sandhi rules (connecting two words).
- The intrinsic nature of this world is “anicca,” i.e., we will never get what we crave for, and thus at the end (at least at death), we will leave all this behind and suffer; that is dukkha.
- There is another (and related) way to explain anicca as the opposite of “nicca”; see, “Three Marks of Existence – English Discourses.”: ... iscourses/
- To get the deeper meaning of what we have discussed so far, we need to realize that the suffering that the Buddha stated in the verse in #5 above is the FUTURE suffering in future births. That is stated clearly also in the sutta.

Rebirth Process Is Irrefutable in Buddha Dhamma

10. After explaining the four Noble Truths (we briefly discussed just the First Noble Truth), the Buddha says in the middle of the sutta: “Ñāṇañca pana me dassanaṃ udapādi: ‘akuppā me vimutti, ayamantimā jāti, natthi dāni punabbhavo'” ti.”

Translated: “The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘unshakable is the liberation of my mind. This is my last birth. There is no more renewed existence.'”

- That statement says the outcome of the discovery of that knowledge. The solution to future suffering. It is the ending of the rebirth process. This will stop those four main causes of suffering discussed in #5 and #6.
- So, my point is that this statement by itself confirms the following facts. (i) The Buddha was focused on stopping suffering in future lives. (Some of which in lower realms could be unimaginably harsh.) (ii) There is no “safe” rebirth anywhere in this world, whether it is a human, Deva, or a Brahma realm.

The Need for Detailed Explanations

11. As you can see, one single verse itself takes a lot of explaining. Even the above explanation addresses only the four major types of suffering in the rebirth process.

- For example, we know that during life there is so much suffering too. Suffering during a human life may be much less compared to that during an animal life.
- Suffering in the other three lower realms would be much higher than that in the animal realm.
- There is no realm among the 31 realms where suffering is absent.
- The need for detailed explanations is further clarified in, “Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta – Structure.”

Saṃkhittena Pañcupādānakkhandhā Dukkhā

12. The last part of the verse in #5 (not in bold), “saṃkhittena pañcu­pādā­nak­khan­dhā dukkhā” will take much more explaining. One needs to understand the five khandhas (rūpa, védanā, sañña, saṅkhāra, viññāna) first, even to begin to understand this part.

- Note that upādāna is related closely to craving or icca. Upādāna means “pulling closer in one’s mind due to craving (iccā).”
- The more one does upādāna with vaci saṅkhāra or -- vitakka/vicāra -- (because of one’s iccā), one’s taṇhā grows. Those three words have slightly different meanings but are closely related.
- Until one sees this anicca, dukkha, anatta nature of this world, one will be trapped in the suffering-filled rebirth process.

Word-by-Word Translations Can be Dangerous

13. The other key point: Translating some key verses word-by-word can lead to bad unintended consequences. This is because many key Pāli words CANNOT be translated as single English words. For example, the word rūpakkhandha should not be translated as “form aggregate.” See, “Difference Between Rupa and Rupakkhandha.”

- The five ascetics were able to attain the Sōtapanna stage by understanding the detailed description of the material embedded in this sutta. That holds today.
- By the way, there is nothing in this sutta that says impermanence leads to suffering. The keywords are icca and anicca.
- Anicca is not the same as Sanskrit “anitya” (which does mean impermanence), which in Pāli is “aniyata” or “addhuvan.” None of those three words appear in this sutta. In fact, I don’t think the word “anicca” appears directly in this sutta either; of course, it appears in many other suttā in the same context. But the word “anitya” does not appear in a single sutta in the Tipitaka; “aniyata” and “addhuvan” appear in a few suttā to actually indicate impermanence in other contexts. For example, “jeevitam aniyatam, maranam niyatam” or "life is impermanent, death is certain."
- As I explained above, the root cause of suffering is explained with the word “icca” in this sutta.

14. Therefore, we can see that there is a lot of information embedded in this sutta. Further analysis of the sutta in this subsection: “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta”: ... ana-sutta/
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Jāti – Different Types of Births

Before understanding Paṭicca Samuppāda, we need to understand the 11 terms there. One critical word is jāti. There are different meanings of the word jāti, depending on the context.

Three Main Meanings of Jāti

1. The commonly-used meaning of jāti is “birth” as in the birth with a human body. We celebrate “birthdays” based on the day someone was born in this life. As we see below, Buddha Dhamma has two other (different) meanings depending on the context.

- In the Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda, jāti means the birth in a new realm among the 31 realms. For example, a living-being can be born as a human, animal, Deva, Brahma, etc. that is a birth in that existence. See, “Akusala-Mūla Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.”
- On the other hand, in Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda, one can be “born” in countless “states” during a given lifetime. See, #3 below.
- The above TWO are the main meanings of “jāti” in Buddha Dhamma. After understanding the concepts, one would be able to use the same term appropriate for a given situation.
- Note that jāti is pronounced “jāthi” with “th” sound as in “three.” See, “Tipitaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1.”

“Birth of a Baby” as Jāti Needs to Understood as the Mundane Version

2. The mundane meaning of “birth” as the birth of a human (or animal) baby is all we can “see” with our limited worldview.

- It takes a Buddha to comprehend the real nature of this complex world.
- The other two possible meanings of “jāti” require a basic understanding of the “wider world view”.
- That means possible births among 31 realms in a rebirth process. But it DOES NOT mean the “re-appearing” of a soul (as in Abrahamic religions) or a ātman (as in Hinduism.)

“Births” During a Lifetime – One Important Type of Jāti

3. This type of jāti happens during a lifetime. For example, one can become angry and be “born” in an “angry bhava” and “angry jāti” for a short time. An hour later, one may learn of a big promotion and become very happy. At that time, one is “born” in a “happy jāti.”

- Even before understanding births (jāti) in the rebirth process, it is important to understand how such temporary jāti arise. The Buddha discussed that in many suttas. See, for example, “Avijjā Sutta (AN 10.61).” This sutta explains that one must associate “good people” and cultivate good habits and be mindful of one’s actions. That way one is likely to be “born in good jāti” during a lifetime. That is the basis for guaranteeing good rebirths in the rebirth process (saṃsāra.)
- See, “Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda” for details on “temporary jāti.”

The Primary Meaning of Jāti – Birth in One of the 31 Realms

4. In the “Saccavibhaṅga Sutta (MN 141),” Ven. Sariputta explains in a bit more detail the material in the “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11).“ That sutta states: “Katamā cāvuso, jāti? Yā tesaṃ tesaṃ sattānaṃ tamhi tamhi sattanikāye jāti sañjāti okkanti abhinibbatti khandhānaṃ pātubhāvo āyatanānaṃ paṭilābho, ayaṃ vuccatāvuso: ‘jāti’.”

Translated: “What is jāti? It is the birth of beings in the various realms with one or more of the following stages: jāti sañjāti okkanti abhinibbatti khandhānaṃ pātubhāvo āyatanānaṃ paṭilābho. This is called birth.“

- English translations try to directly translate those words, but that does not convey the real meaning of those words. See, for example, “Discourse on The Analysis of the Truths.” : ... .piya.html

Births in the Brahma and Deva Realms Have Only the First step – Jāti

5. For opapatika (instantaneous) births in the Deva and Brahma realms, jāti is the ONLY stage involved. A Brahma or a Deva is born instantaneously complete with “all parts of the body.”

- Here the “body” refers to the mental body and the physical body composed of the four great elements. Of course, the physical bodies of Brahmas only have a few units of suddhāṭṭhaka. Devas have more “solid bodies” but are still not visible to us.
- More details at “Manomaya Kaya (Gandhabba) and the Physical Body.”

Humans and Animals Have Other Additional Stages of “Birth”

6. Humans and animals have those other four stages as follows. Let us describe a human birth.

(i) A human is first “born” with just 3 sets of suddhāṭṭhaka (vatthu dasaka, kaya dasaka, and bhava dasaka.) This happens at the jāti stage.

(ii) Within a split second, 4 more dasaka (4 pasada rupa of cakkhu, sota, ghana, and jivha) are incorporated, leading to the sañjāti stage. This is the same as the gandhabba state. That gandhabba then stays for the duration of human existence (bhava.) It is periodically pulled into a womb by kammic energy to be “born with a physical body.”

(iii) When pulled into a womb, the gandhabba merges with a zygote and that is the okkanti state.

(iv) Then that embryo grows in the womb in the abhinibbatti stage.

(v) When all body parts are formed that is the khandhānaṃ pātubhāvo stage and a baby then comes out of the womb. That last stage is what we commonly call a “birth.”

(vi) The sensory faculties start working as āyatana after the baby is born. This is the last āyatanānaṃ paṭilābho stage.

- See, “Manomaya Kaya (Gandhabba) and the Physical Body” and “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception” for details.

Repeated “Births” Within Human and Animal Bhava

7. When that physical body dies, that is not necessarily the end of the “human bhava.” That gandhabba comes out of the dead body and waits for another womb. We also call this “repeated jāti” within that same human bhava. See, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.” Per our discussion above, “jāti” in that post refer to the mundane meaning – which is the same as khandhānaṃ pātubhāvo stage in #6 above. Thus, we need to be able to understand the meaning of a word appropriate for the situation.

- When the kammic energy for the human bhava (human existence) is depleted, that gandhabba dies and that is the end of human bhava. Then it can grasp a new existence as a Deva, Brahma, an animal, etc.
- Therefore, we can see that a human can be in the ‘human bhava” as a human gandhabba for many thousands of years. The same holds for animals. - A fly lives with a visible “fly body” only for several days, but that “fly bhava” can last thousands of years. That is the “repeated births” within a given bhava. There are many more details that can be found by searching for posts on gandhabba; type the word “gandhabba” in the “Search” box on the top right.

There Are Other Types of Jāti Too!

8. When one gets deeper into Buddha Dhamma, one can see that everything in this world is “born” due to causes and effects, i.e., Paṭicca Samuppāda. For example, a tree is born out of a seed. A car is “born” in a factory. All those can be described by Paṭicca Samuppāda.

- The Buddha explained this to Vāseṭṭha in the “Vāseṭṭha Sutta (MN 98).” The English translation there is good enough to get the idea: “With Vāseṭṭha.”: However, there is no need to get into those aspects at the beginning.
- However, in that sutta, the Buddha told Vāseṭṭha that humans are the same as a species. But they can be “born” in various “gati” according to their actions. For example, one who steals is “born” a thief. In another example, the Buddha says, “I don’t call someone a brahmin (of high caste) based on the mother or womb they came from.” Furthermore, even an immoral person can change to be “born a moral person of good character.”
- Those are also “types of jāti.”

Jātidhammā Different From Jāti

9. It is to be noted that jātidhammā means something different from jāti.

- As explained in the “Saccavibhaṅga Sutta (MN 141),” Jātidhammā are dhammā responsible for jāti. Similarly, jarādhammā, byādhidhammā, sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsadhammā are dhammā responsible for old age, disease, and all other sufferings associated with jāti: sorrow (soka), lamentation (parideva), suffering (dukkha), misery (domanassa), and despair (upāyāsa).
- A fairly good English translation at: “Discourse on The Analysis of the Truths.”:


10. The term jāti (birth) needs to be understood in the context of a given situation.

- When someone says, “I was born 30 years ago” that refers to his/her birth with the present physical body. That person would not know when he/she was first “born” in the human realm. Thus we normally refer to birth as “to be born with a human body.” We say the same about an animal, like “this dog was born 10 years ago.”
- However, in Buddhist terminology, birth (jāti) refers to two main types discussed above: the first happens many times during a given lifetime.
- The second type of jāti is the moment of appearance in any given realm. A living-being could be born a Deva, Brahma, human, animal, etc.
- After the Parinibbāna (death) of an Arahant, birth (jāti) in any of the 31 realms of this world will not take place. In the “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11)” the Buddha stated, “ayamantimā jāti” or “this is my last birth.” At Parinibbāna (merging with Nibbāna), suffering stops without a trace.
- As long as there is a jāti, it ALWAYS ends up in death. That is why all Paṭicca samuppāda cycles end up with decay (jarā) and death (marana.) Even the kusala-mula version of Paṭicca Samuppāda ends up with just “jāti paccayā jarā maraṇaṃ.” See, “Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda.” - Thus, even a Noble Person on the way to Nibbāna will encounter death. Of course, death is stopped at Parinibbāna.
- The akusala-mula version of Paṭicca Samuppāda has “jāti paccayā jarā, marana, soka-paridēva-dukkha-dōmanassupāyasā sambhavan’ti.” That has other types of suffering as well. See, “Akusala-Mūla Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.”
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

BhavaKammic Energy That Can Power an Existence

Bhava is kammic energy created by the mind. It can power a new existence in kāma bhava, rupa bhava, or arupa bhava. The word Buddha means “to stop bhava” (bhava + uddha.)

Grasping a Bhava (Kammic Energy) Leads to Jati (Birth) in That Bhava

1. There are different types of jāti or births. See, “Jāti – Different Types of Births.”

- Nothing can arise without a cause and without sufficient energy. Any birth can arise only if there is an energy that can sustain that birth. Different types of energy can sustain different types of births.
- Three main types of bhava refer to kammic energies that can sustain existences in the kāma loka, rupa loka, or arupa loka. The Buddha explained that to Ven. Ananda in the “Paṭhamabhava Sutta (AN 3.76).” Venerable Ananda asked the Buddha “Bhante, they speak of this thing called ‘bhava’. How is bhava defined?
- As we know, all 31 realms in this world can be divided into three categories: 11 realms in kāma loka, 16 realms in rupa loka, and 4 realms in arupa loka. See, “31 Realms Associated with the Earth.”
- Existences in those three are supported by kāma bhava, rupa bhava, and arupa bhava. They are three different types of energies created by the mind, as we will see below.

Kāma Bhava Required for Births in Kāma Loka

2. The Buddha explained kāma bhava as follows: “Kāmadhātuvepakkañca, ānanda, kammaṁ nābhavissa, api nu kho kāmabhavo paññāyethā”ti?

Translated: “If, Ānanda, a kammic energy established in the sensual plane (kāmadhātuvepakkañca or kāma dhātuve pakkañca) is not entered (nābhavissa or na abhavissa), can an existence in a sensual realm (kāma bhavo) come about?”

- Venerable Ananda replied that it would not be possible. To be born in any of the 11 realms in the kāma loka, such an appropriate type of energy must be cultivated and then grasped to “start that birth in kāma loka.”
- Of course, there are different varieties of kammic energy powering the 11 realms in kāma loka.
- But they all have one thing in common: craving sensory experiences associated with all five six senses, and in particular, the five physical senses. Thus the term pañca kāma or “five types of kāma“.
- Note that Devas in the 6 Deva realms have less dense bodies than humans. But they still have dense enough bodies to experience all five physical sensory inputs.

Rupa Bhava Required for Births in the Rupa Loka

3. In the same way as above, the Buddha explained rupa bhava: “Rūpadhātuvepakkañca, ānanda, kammaṁ nābhavissa, api nu kho rūpabhavo paññāyethā”ti?

Translated: “If, Ānanda, a kammic energy established in the rupa plane (rupadhātuvepakkañca or rupa dhātuve pakkañca) is not entered (nābhavissa or na abhavissa), can an existence in the rupa plane (rupa bhavo) come about?” No.

- Therefore, one must have cultivated the necessary type of energy to grasp a birth in one of the 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms in rupa loka. Such energies are created with rupāvacara jhāna.
- To cultivate rupāvacara jhāna, one MUST give up cravings for the strongest of the pañca kāma, i.e., those sensory experiences associated with a physical body. Those are smell, taste, and physical touch.
- That is why rupāvacara Brahmas do not have physical bodies. Those Brahmas are satisfied with just sights and sounds.
- There is no need for a physical body if smell, taste, and body touches are not needed. A rupāvacara Brahma has only a manomaya kāya or a “mental body.”
- As we have seen human gandhabbas can still see and hear after coming out of the physical body. A physical body with eyes and ears is not necessary to see and hear. Only the cakkhu and sota pasāda rupa (in the manomaya kāya) are required for seeing and hearing. See, “Mental Body Versus the Physical Body.”

Arupa Bhava Required for Births in the Arupa Loka

4. As can be expected, the Buddha explained arupa bhava as follows: “Arūpadhātuvepakkañca, ānanda, kammaṁ nābhavissa, api nu kho arūpabhavo paññāyethā”ti?

Translated: “If, Ānanda, a kammic energy established in the arupa plane (arupaadhātuvepakkañca or arupa dhātuve pakkañca) is not entered (nābhavissa or na abhavissa), can an existence in the arupa plane (arupa bhavo) come about?” No.

- Therefore, one must have cultivated the necessary energy associated with the arupa bhava to grasp a birth in one of the 16 arupāvacara Brahma realms in arupa loka. Such energies are created with arupāvacara jhāna.
- To cultivate arupāvacara jhāna, one MUST give up cravings for all of the pañca kāma. That is why arupāvacara Brahmas do not have any pasāda rupa. It has only hadaya vatthu in the manomaya kāya. They can not even see or hear. They can only think.
- Thus the only “matter” in rupāvacara Brahma realms are the suddhāṭṭhaka in the hadaya vatthu of those Brahmas.
- We notice a trend from the above summary. Let us discuss that now.

"Level of Suffering" Decreases With "Decreasing Matter"

5. We see that sensory experiences with all six senses are available only in the 11 realms of the kāma loka. That is where most suffering is too! While the Deva realms with “less dense bodies” have optimum sensory pleasures with all six senses, the four lowest realms (apāyās) have the most suffering. The human realm in the middle has both pleasures and suffering.

- Of course, pañca kāma pleasures are available only in kāma loka. They include body touches, tastes, smells, as well as with sights and sounds. The first three types REQUIRE dense bodies to have “close contacts.” But there is a “price to pay” as we will discuss below.
- Furthermore, those who cultivate rupāvacara jhāna (Ariya or anariya) can see that “jhānic pleasures” are much better and longer-lasting than “pañca kāma pleasures.”
- The rupāvacara jhāna are the first four jhāna. If one keeps going up to higher jhāna, they can see that the higher four arupāvacara jhāna are better than the rupāvacara jhāna.
- That is why it is easier for those who have cultivated jhāna to see that there is stress associated with “sensory contacts.” The closer the contact is, the stronger the stress level.

Increasing “Cooling Down” With Decreasing Sensory Contacts

6. In the long-run, having more faculties for sensory experiences has “built-in” suffering much more than any pleasures. Having the ability to smell, taste and touch requires a dense physical boy. Such a physical body comes with bodily pains, diseases, and can be subjected to injuries. Such drawbacks are minimum in Deva realms where those bodies have the least density. But in other realms in the kāma loka, such sufferings can be unbearable, especially in the apāyās.

- Those who cultivate such rupāvacara jhāna can experience this “relief” in this life itself. As one progresses towards higher rupāvacara jhāna, the physical body is felt less and less. In the fourth jhāna, one does not feel the physical body at all. Furthermore, those who cultivate such rupāvacara jhāna are invariably born in rupāvacara Brahma realms at the death of the present human body.
- When one transcends the fourth jhāna and gets into the higher jhānās, one will start seeing that even rupāvacara jhāna are stressful. The relief becomes even higher as one proceeds to the highest arupāvacara jhāna. At the highest arupāvacara jhāna, one just feels that one is alive and the stress level is at the minimum. However, one with anariya jhāna cannot go beyond that and stop that remaining stress, because one still has anusaya (latent defilements.) Furthermore, one with anusaya can be reborn even in the apāyās in future lives. This is why anariya jhānās are useless in the end. See, “Samādhi, Jhāna, Magga Phala – Introduction.”
- But an Arahant who can attain the highest jhāna can “stop life altogether” and get into “nirodha samāpatti.” That can last up to 7 days, and one can “experience full Nibbāna” during that time. But that is not an experience in this world that can be described with the vedanā cetasika. We have no idea of what that would be like.

Parinibbāna Is Where There Is No Suffering

7. Not even a trace of stress –let alone any suffering — is left when an Arahant attains Parinibbāna at death. All three planes of existence (kāma bhava, rupa bhava, arupa bhava) are absent in Parinibbāna!

- This is why “this world of 31 realms” and Parinibbāna are mutually exclusive. One can exist ONLY in either “this world” OR in “full Nibbāna” (Parinibbāna.)
- Note that even an Arahant lives in “this world” until death, and is subject to suffering due to kamma vipāka. Even the Buddha had some ailments and Ven. Moggallana was beaten to death.
- Therefore, even an Arahant is subjected to suffering as long as living in “this world of 31 realms.” Thus Nibbāna is not complete until the death of the Arahant.


8. Bhava is kammic energy created by the mind. In the above, we discussed three main types of bhava responsible for ALL births (jāti) in this world of 31 realms.

- As we can see, the required kammic energy is created by the mind itself. That is quite clear in the cases of rupa bhava and arupa bhava where the corresponding jhāna cittā produce that energy.
- Energies associated with kāma bhava are also produced in javana citta. Such javana cittā arise when we are engaged in a strong kamma. For example, javana energy to fuel a birth in the niraya or hell (the lowest realm) is produced in the mind of the murderer while doing that killing.
- That is how different types of bhava are related to different types of kamma. Cultivating jhāna is a type of kamma too.
- The word Buddha means “to stop bhava” (bhava + uddha.) Only a Buddha can figure out how to stop grasping various types of bhava (kammic energies) that we have accumulated, and thus to stop any and all future suffering. That is why “Buddha” is a shared title for all the Buddhās.

All posts in this subsection at “Paṭicca Samuppāda – Essential Concepts.”
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by 2600htz »

Hi Lal:

"Level of Suffering" Decreases With "Decreasing Matter".

This statement would you say applies only to kama loka?.
I dont know if that applies to lets say: hungry ghosts.

Maybe apayas/hell realms yes. The description of hell beings walking through hot iron, burning to the bone, lifting the foot and "becoming whole again" gives me the idea of a hostil environment where living beings evolved to have extreme regenerative qualities, to their disgrace.

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