The Purity of Mind (Citta) is known in Pali word as Visuddhi. Visuddhi is one of the subjects of vipassana meditation. Visuddhi has seven stages of purity made known in Pali term as Satta-visuddhi, Vimutti-Magga and Visuddhi-dhamma.
Here are the seven Stages of Purity; namely,
– The purity of morality
– The purity of mind
– The purity of view
– The purity by overcoming doubt
– The purity by knowledge and vision of what the path is and non-path
– The purity by knowledge and vision of the path-progress
– The purity of knowledge and vision
You find these seven stages of purity in the Majjhima Nikaya No. 24 known as the Rathavinita Sutta where the Elder Sariputta is represented to ask the young Punna-Putta Bhikkhu: “What is the Motive of the Buddhist Life? Do we live a Buddhist life for the sake of purity of moral conduct?” “No”, said Punna-Putta. “Then do we live for the sake of purity of heart?” “No”, “Of purity of belief?” “No”, “Of purity of confidence?” “No”, “Of purity of vipassana through knowledge of what the right path is and what the other path is not?” “No”, “Of purity of vipassana through knowledge of the practice?” “No”, “Then for the sake of purity of Vipassana Ñãnadassana Visuddhi?” “No”. “What do you mean you say “No, No?”, “All these things are necessary. But they are only the means to end”. “Then for the sake of what we do and live the Buddhist life?” “All we must do is that we must detach from the things in the human world as well as heavenly realm and make effort to attain the supreme Nibbana, that is the unique motive of Buddhist life”, replied Punna-Putta Bhikkhu.
The Rathavinita Sutta is well known as the Simile of the Stage-Coach its aim and goal are illustrated that the ultimate goal is not made up in purity of Sila-Visuddhi, or of Citta-Visuddhi, or of Ditthi-Visuddhi, etc. But their Holy Purpose and aim is in total deliverance from all defilements such as craving, hatred, ignorance, etc.
This is similar to King Pasenadi of Kosala when he has a royal work in Rajagaha he gets on his first stage-coach and travels to the second coach then he gets on the second coach and travels with it to the third coach and so on, so forth, until he arrives in Rajagaha city to have the meeting with King Bimbisara there.
In exactly the same way when a meditator practises the Satta-Visuddhi he must begin his vipassana with the purity of (1) moral conduct (Sila-Visuddhi) is (2) the purity of mind (citta-visuddhi); its goal: (3) the purity of view (ditthi-visuddhi); its goal: (4) the purity with getting rid of doubt (kankha-visuddhi); its goal: (5) the purity by knowledge and vision of what the right path and non-path is (magga-Visuddhi); its goal: (6) the purity by knowledge and vision of the path-progress (patipada-visuddhi); its goal: (7) the purity of knowledge and vision (ñãnadassana-visuddhi); but the goal of this purification is deliverance freed from all attachment and clinging.
When a monk decides to practise the Satta-Visuddhi he must observe the purity of Sila consists of the fourfold purity of morality; namely, to observe the Patimokkha rules; sense-restraint, purity of livelihood, morality with regard to the four requisites. For lay people, they should observe the five or eight moral precepts as the fundamental level.
On the second Stage (Citta-Visuddhi) a meditator needs to have ‘attainment samadhi’ known as Appana-Samadhi (one-pointedness or eight kinds of Jhana), or ‘neighbourhood samadhi’ known as Upacara-Samadhi; or at least ‘preparatory samadhi’ known as Parikamma-Samadhi in order to be his foundation of vipassana meditation (Insight).
On the third Stage (Ditthi-Visuddhi) the meditator should see that all human life consisting of five aggregates in short known as the mind and body, which is termed as conditioned Sankhara. These aggregates are often on condition. They possess three characteristics: namely, impermanence, destructible and selflessness. All conditioned kinds of sankhara are transitory and suffering. He must see clearly that human life has no atta, no self, or no ego. It is only the forces of mind and physical matter working together until the last day! When the meditator overcomes the belief in the personality he sees that all kinds of sankhara are marked by anicca, dukkha and anatta.
On the fourth Stage the meditator overcomes doubt and understands the causes his birth and death about the five aggregates (nama-rupa) clearly. As a result he has no doubt of life in the past, at present and in the future. He knows exactly that the natural causes of his birth are ‘ignorance, craving, attachment and kamma brought his life to exist. His whole life is nourished by solid foods and breathing. His six sense-organs and outer-stimuli objects are the direct cause of six consciousnesses and sensation, perception and mental formation.
The meditator may meet a few of doubt during the course of his vipassana. Take for example he doubts whether or not ‘his self’ (Atta) exists; whether or not ‘his self’ previously existed; whether or not ‘his self’ will exist in the future and if so in what form of life, etc. These doubts are dispelled when he realizes that there is no ‘Atta’ or no ‘I’ at all. His life only composes of elements, aggregates, a nerve-system. When he eradicates his doubt his second stage of vipassana is achieved. Even so his self-conceit has not yet completely disappeared for ever.
On the fifth Stage of what the right path is that the meditator understands what the right path from the wrong path, seeing that the right path is to follow. In order to attain the fifth stage of purification, he must at first develop well-planed insight through contemplation of the five aggregates of life existence (khandha).
But the meditator is extremely warned that if he has not yet developed vipassana correctly ten mental impurities (upakilesa) such as ‘effulgent light, knowledge, rapture, tranquillity, happiness, determination, energy, awareness, equanimity and delight’, one or two of them, etc, may arise and interrupt during his bhavana and become impediments in the three kinds of full understanding here considered.
As soon as the manifold ways and characteristics of the Four Noble Truths and the Dependent Origination (paticcasamuppada) have become clear to him, he says to himself: ‘Thus these things have never before arisen arise and having arisen they disappear again. So the formations of life existence ever and again arise as something quite new. But not only are they something new, they are moreover of limited duration, like a dew-drop at sunrise, like a bubble, like a line drawn with a stick in the water, like a mustard seed placed on the point of an arrow, or like a flash of lightning. Also as something unsubstantial and empty do they appear, as jugglery, as a mirage! Merely something subject to vanishing arises, and having arisen disappears again.
Excepting Delight only the rest are not impurities (upakilesa) as such but they can block vipassana path through the arising of pride or delight or by a wrong belief so the meditator concludes that one of the Noble paths has been attained. He who is watchful and experienced in insight practice will know that these states of mind do not yet indicate attainment of the true path, but are only symptoms or the blocking of path progress.
Henceforth the meditator has determined three of the truths, namely while determining the mind and body existence he has, through purification of view, determined the truth of seeing suffering. While he grasps the conditions he has, through purification by overcoming doubt, determined the truth of the origin of suffering. While he determines the right path, he has, through purification by knowledge and vision of what path is and non-path is and determines the truth of the path leading to the extinction of suffering.
On the sixth Stage of purification by knowledge and vision of the path-progress is the insight perfected in eight kinds of knowledge together with the nine steps of knowledge (vipassanañāna), such knowledge adapting itself to truth.
The above eight blessings of the knowledge are abandoning belief in external existences and giving up the clinging to life and constant right application of the mind to vipassana endeavour, a purified livelihood, overcoming anxiety, absence of fear, acquisition of forbearance and gentleness, conquest of discontent and sensual delight.
The Nine Kinds of Insight
By the eight kinds of knowledge mentioned earlier are meant that now the meditator must follow the right path progress as correct nine steps of insight, namely:
- (1) Knowledge consisting in contemplation of rise and fall,
- (2) Knowledge in contemplation of dissolution,
- (3) Knowledge in awareness of terror (or the fearfulness,
- (4) Knowledge in contemplation of misery,
- (5) Knowledge in contemplation of aversion,
- (6) Knowledge in the desire for deliverance,
- (7) Knowledge in reflecting contemplation,
- (8) Knowledge in equanimity regarding all formations of existence,
- (sankhārupekkhā-ñãna) followed by
- (9) Knowledge in adaptation to the Four Noble Truths.
(1) The meditator sees and observes of the three characteristics of existence: impermanence, suffering, no self in his own mind and body processes. As long as his mind is still disturbed by the ‘ten impurities’ the three characteristics will not become fully cleared in their true nature. Only when the mind is freed from these imperfections can the three characteristics be observed clearly.
(2) When he sees through such repeated practice, knowledge and mindfulness have grown keen and the bodily and mental formations become apparent quickly, at that stage the phase of dissolution of these formations will become prominent. His consciousness with materiality as its object arises and dissolves. Having reflected on that object, the meditator contemplates the dissolution of the mind and body consciousness.
(3) The meditator has awareness of terror or fearfulness and seeing of terror in the conditions as well as the continuity of existence. For whoso considers the formations as impermanent, to him the conditions of existence – the karma-formations producing ever new existence appear as terror, as driving towards death. Whoso considers the formations as misery to him the continuity of existence appears as terror, as something oppressive. Whoso considers the formations as impersonal to him the karma-formations as well as the continuity of human existence appears as terror as an empty village and as a mirage!
(4) He contemplates on misery and danger and another aspect of the awareness of terror: the origin of life existence is terror, continuance of births is terror; arising is suffering, such understanding in the awareness of terror is the knowledge of misery. Non-birth arising is bliss. This is knowledge of the peaceful state; the no-more-arising is safety and is happiness as it is Nibbana.
(5) He contemplates on aversion means: aversion for all formations as terror, so its name awareness of terror has come into use. Because it has made known the misery of all these formations, therefore it has received the name of contemplation of misery. Because it has arisen through aversion for those formations, therefore it is known as contemplation of aversion.
(6) Now he has strong desire for deliverance means: the desire for freedom and escape from all formations of existence. For feeling aversion for all formations, becoming weary of them, finding no more delight in them, his mind does not cling and attach to a single beauty of all these formations.
(7) He reflects contemplation upon the repeated meditative discernment of the formations of his life existence, attributing to them the three characteristics of existence, with the desire to find deliverance from all forms of existence.
(8) With equanimity the meditator regards all formations: “When he reflects contemplation and has discerned the formations by applying the three characteristics to them and sees them as empty and void, he abandons both terror and delight, and becomes indifferent and equanimity with regard to all formations; he neither takes them as “I” nor as “mine” he is like a man who has divorced his wife”. Now, while his continuing to contemplate the three characteristics of existence and perceiving the tranquil lot of Nibbana as the peace, this equanimity-knowledge becomes the triple gateway to liberation. As it is said; “Three gateways to liberation lead to escape from the world, namely: that the mind is contemplating all formations as limited, and is rushing forward to the condition-less element; that the mind is stirred with regard to all formations of existence, and is rushing forward to the desire-less element; that the mind sees all things as something foreign, and is rushing forward to the void element”.
At this stage and through the triple gateway, the diversification of path attainment takes place, according to the seven kinds of noble persons or ariya- puggala.
The sixth, seventh, and eighth knowledge according to Visuddhi-Magga construct really only one single knowledge in its first, middle, and final stages of development. This knowledge is also known as the Vipassana Bhavana leading to path rise.
(9) Finally the meditator adapts to truth or conformity with truth is called that knowledge which, while contemplating impermanence, etc. adapts itself to the preceding eight kinds of insight-knowledge, as well as to the immediately following supramundane path and to the thirty-seven elements pertaining to enlightenment. It is identical with adaptation-knowledge.
Therefore whosoever has cultivated and frequently practised equanimity regarding all life-formation arises in him very strong faith known as determination (adhimokkha-saddha) and his energy is better exerted, his mindfulness better established, his mind better concentrated and a still stronger equanimity regarding the formations arises.
Now the path will reveal itself, thus thinking, the meditator contemplates with his equanimity-knowledge all formations as impermanent, etc and thereafter that knowledge sinks into the subconscious stream of existence. Immediately afterwards there advertence at the mind-door arises. And just like equanimity-knowledge, the adaptation-knowledge, too, takes as its object the formations, regarding them as something impermanent, miserable and impersonal. Thereupon, while continuing the uninterrupted continuity of consciousness (citta-santati), there the first impulsive moment (javana) arises.
This is called ‘preparation’ (parikamma), taking the same formations as object. Immediately thereafter, with the same formations as object, there arises the second impulsive moment, known as access (upacara). And again immediately after that, there arises the impulsive moment called “adaptation” (anuloma).
This Ñãnadassan-visuddhi is the last the knowledge of the SATTA VISUDDHI associated with any of the four kinds of supramundane path-consciousness (ariya-puggala).
The Result of the Practice
Immediately upon this adaptation-knowledge there arises the “maturity- knowledge” (GOTRARABHŪÑĀNA) taking as object the unconditioned, the standstill of existence, the absence of becoming, cessation of suffering (Nibbana), at the same time transcending the rank, designation and plane of the world-ling and entering the rank, designation and plane of the Noble Ones (ariya), being the first turning towards Nibbana as object, the first thinking of it, the first concentration on it and the condition for the path… forming the culmination of insight, and never as such coming back again.
As the immediate continuation following upon that maturity knowledge, there arises the first path-consciousness (stream-entry) forever destroying the ‘first three of the ten fetters of existence’ and closing the entrance to the lower worlds. Immediately after this path-knowledge, there arise, as its result, two or three path-produced states of consciousness, the fruition consciousness (phala-citta).
Immediately after the sinking of this consciousness into the subconscious stream of existence, the retrospective knowledge arises, having the path consciousness as its object. Each of the four kinds of path-consciousness performs at the one and the same time four functions, namely: the function of full understanding of suffering, the function of overcoming the origin of suffering, the function of realising the extinction of suffering and the function of developing the supramundane Noble Eightfold Path.
Not to do any evil deeds
To cultivate the goodness
To purify the mind
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.
According to Dhammapada Verse 183 the Buddha summarized all of his teaching and all philosophy he detailed on various discourses (sutras). In his ‘Lion’s Roar’ he exhibited that the attachment and grasping (Upadana) always binds mankind to the cycles of rebirths. And only upon cleansing the minds can all of them certainly and truly win the mental liberation and Nibbana at last. According to the Noble Quest he gave his own personal examination and experience of the deep root of the mind-impurities and the ‘clinging views’ and ignorantly clinging rules and ritual’ are very useless and dangerous. Since these things are not only seen as danger but always seen as the alteration.
The Buddha finds that many human beings are simply blinded and in the Udana Sutta he gives the simile of the blind men and the elephant and said: “Oh monks most people who ill-advisedly keep all clinging views and mere rules (sīlabbattupādāna) are blinded and unseeing the Reality. They neither know the profitable deeds and nor the unprofitable kamma. They neither know what the Dhamma is, and they do not know what the Dhamma is not. In their delusion of these things they are by their nature quarrelsome, wrangling and disputatious, too.
Formerly there was a king of Savatthi who ordered an officer; “Go and gather together all of the blind men in a place, then you give them an elephant before them, will you?” The officer had done what he was told and said to the blind men: “This is an elephant” and to one man he presented the head of the elephant; to another man its ear; to another man its tusk; to another man its trunk, the foot, the back, the tail and tuft of the tail, the officer said to each man that that was the elephant.
Shortly the king went to all of the blind men and said to each man; “Well gentle men, have you perceived the elephant?” “Yes Sir”. The king said; “Now tell me, blind men, what kind of the elephant is like?” Then those who had been presented with the elephant’s head answered: “Sir, an elephant is like a pot”. Those who had touched an ear of the elephant replied; “An elephant is like a winnowing basket”. Those who were given with a tusk said an elephant was like a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said an elephant was a plough. Those said the body of an elephant was granary, its foot was like a pillar, its back was a mortar; its tail was like a broomstick…Shortly those blind men began to quarrel, shouting to each other, “Yes, I’m right!” “Yes, it is”. “No, it isn’t! An elephant is not like that”. “Yes, it is like that”. And so on, so forth. Until they come to punch over one another… What’s a shame! Just so are those Buddhists who hold Atta-Upadana.
What is his true teaching? It has once been asked: how do we know ‘what the Buddha taught?’ He gives answer to Elder Upali: “The doctrines of which you know are the doctrines lead people to bless, peacefulness and Nibbana, regard them unreservedly as Dhamma, Discipline, words of the Buddha”. It is the actual practice of Mindfulness that we know for certain and no other way.
While the Buddha was staying in Kosambi North India, he took a few leaves of trees and asked the monks sitting before him; “What do you think O monks? Are the leaves in my hand more than the leaves in this woodland here?” “Sir, the leaves in your hand are just a few, indeed, the leaves in this woodland here are much more”. “Listen! Oh monks! What I have discovered and teaching you is only a little, but what I haven’t told you are very much more. Why I haven’t taught you those things because they are useless and not leading to the peace of mind and to Nibbana”.
And he once compared his truth teaching is similar to a raft for crossing over a river to the safety place. He advised humanity that they should understand that his teaching is like a raft. From this fable it is quite clear that the Buddha’s teaching and advice means to take people from frightful place to safety, bliss and to attain Nibbana. What the Buddha teaches absolutely leads to this end.
The Buddha does not teach anything in order to make intellectual inquisitiveness. On the contrary his four kinds of perfect analytical knowledge especially his ready wit (Patisambhida) supported him to be a practical and perfect Teacher so he teaches all castes of men and women only those things that shall bring peace, happiness and Nibbana (Summum Bonum) to them all, provided they want to follow his great teaching and advice.
The aim of the Buddha to establish the Order of monks and nuns is to provide the spiritual practices for the Holy life so that whoever wishes to leave from the rounds of frightful rebirths should make effort to attain Nibbana as the end of all suffering.
There at the Jeta Grove monastery in Savatthi North India, the Buddha once ordered monks to come before him and said; “The ‘Ten Essentials’ Oh monks, you should always review because you who have given up the household life and gone forth to a homeless life. And what are ten?
“Having consented to be a monk, you have a different status from a layman. Therefore this should always be reflected by you who have gone forth from a household life to a homeless and a holy life.
“My life is dependent on others. This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household life to a holy life.
“What should be done by me is of another character. This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household to a holy life.
“Does my mind not reprove me as to my virtues? This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household life to a holy life.
“Do the wise fellows among myself in the Order, having tested me, not criticize me as to my virtue? This you should ever reflect because you gone forth from a household life to a holy life.
“With all pleasant and dear to me, there is changing and parting inevitably. This you should ever reflect because you have gone from a household life to a holy life.
“Of deeds and of mind, speech and body am I, have deeds for my inheritance, deeds as mould, deeds for kinsmen, deeds for my protection. Whatever kamma I do perform, be it skilful or unskilful of that shall I be heir. This you should ever reflect because you have gone from a household life to a holy life.
“How do I pass my nights and days? This you should ever reflect because you have gone from a household to a holy life.
“Do I delight in a quiet place and solitude? This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household life to a holy life.
“Have I gained faculties transcending the normal, the truly distinctive attainment of noble wisdom of insight, so that when questioned by other monks in the Noble Order in my last days I shall be unperturbed? Oh monks, this should always be reflected upon by you who have gone forth from the household life to the holy life.
These are the ‘Ten Essentials’ that should ever be reviewed by you who have gone forth”. So said the Buddha and all monks who had listened to his unique advice were extremely delighted.
RETREAT RULES AND PRACTICES
THE BUDDHAPADIPA TEMPLE, LONDON
‘Harmonious Practices towards a Noble Community Living’
The Buddhapadipa Temple London and its retreat organizers gladly welcome all meditators to the Residential Meditation retreat. We hope this retreat will provide a good opportunity for meditators to develop mindfulness necessary for spiritual insights that lead to enlightenment.
Although this retreat is ideal for experienced meditators, however on the first day of the retreat, meditation teachers will give instructions to all meditators including beginners on sitting meditation, walking meditation as well as observing other daily activities. During the retreat the meditation teacher will advise meditators on how to develop progressive insights according to meditator’s report during the interview.
This is a residential retreat; all meditators are required to stay overnight at the Temple. The Temple will provide mattresses, blanket, pillow and sleeping bag, but if you like, you can bring yours. Each meditator will stay in a separated room unless one would like to share their room with others.
Charge & Fee
There is a charge of £70 for attending this retreat. This amount of money will be mainly for preparing foods and drinks (vegetarian). We accept cash or cheque (please make it payable to ‘the Buddhapadipa Temple Trust’).
Things to Bring and Not to Bring
You will need to bring:
- sufficient clothing for the retreat as no washing of clothes is allowed for retreat. White clothes are ideal; however, polite colours are also acceptable.
- a torch/flashlight, personal toiletries, alarm clock, personal medication, water tumbler etc. You are welcome to bring your own meditation cushion, bench or meditation mat if you wish.
Please do not
- bring a laptop or use any emailing or other social medias such Facebook, Instagram/twitter ect.
- use mobile phone except in cases of emergency.
- bring valuable items to the retreat.
- set your alarm clock earlier than the wake up time ie 5.00 A.M.
- use beeping watches in the Meditation room.
- wear shoes in the Meditation room. Slippers are allowed.
Most importantly, meditators should not be fussy and ought to behave in a dignified manner.
Smoking and Fires
Smoking or fires of any kind, including candles, are prohibited due to the risk of fire. Do not forget to switch off the light and unplug any electric lead & cable every time before leaving the room.
Upon arrival, make sure to confirm your registration, pay the fee to the coordinator, collect the room’s key and sleeping items at the house. Please park your car in the car park.
All participants are expected to stay for the entire period of the retreat except in the case of illness or emergency of compassionate nature and with permission from the teachers.
- The organizers reserve the right to amend or to add any rules and regulations which they deem necessary for the smooth running of the retreat.
- The number of participants for this retreat is limited due to space constraints and other considerations.
- Acceptance of participants is at the discretion of the organizers. All decisions by the organizers are final. The organizers are not obliged to offer any reasons for not accepting any applicant.
Retreat Orientation: Basic Rules and Regulations
In order to make spiritual progress during the retreat, meditators need to have faith, effort and perseverance. Faith in the teacher and in the method, will inspire meditators to practise. Faith alone is not sufficient, however, meditators also need effort and perseverance to progress along the spiritual path leading to enlightenment and emancipation. Therefore, faith, effort, and perseverance are indispensable qualities for meditators during the retreat. For the retreat to be smooth and fruitful, all meditators are requested to observe all the retreat rules. The rules may seem demanding but they are created for the benefits of all the meditators who are ready to practise wholeheartedly. They are as follows:
- Practise seriously. During the retreat, upon seeing meditators not mindfully focusing on their practice, the meditation teacher(s) or the retreat coordinator(s) will remind them so.
- All participants are to observe the 8 precepts. Those with permission from the meditation teacher due to physical sickness may be exempted from observing the sixth precept.
The 8 precepts are:
- 1st: Abstaining from killing any living being.
- 2nd: Abstaining from taking what is not given.
- 3rd: Abstaining from sexual activity.
- 4th: Abstaining from wrong speech—lying, gossiping, divisive, or harsh speech.
- 5th: Abstaining from intoxicants.
- 6th: Abstaining from eating after noon (i.e. drinking milk, soy milk, milo, 3 in 1 coffee, etc.)
- 7th: Abstaining from dancing, singing, listening to music, watching movies, or adorning oneself with garlands and perfumes.
- 8th: Abstaining from using high or luxurious seats & beds.
- Keep noble silenceall the time, talk only when really necessary such as during the interview or during the question-and-answer session.
- Bow before and after each sitting meditation, each Dhamma talk, and each interview to display gratitude and humility. Please do not take bowing as a behaviour of lower social status.
- Meditators must do all activities mindfully in slow motion. However, when lining up for taking foods, resume normal pace with mindfulness to have time to finish meal by noon. Look down while walking, standing, eating and during interview reporting.
- Avoid greeting each other, smoking, making calls, listening to electronic devices, reading books and materials not related to the practice, and wandering.
- Avoid stretching legs toward the Buddha shrine to show respect.
- Show respect toward meditation teachers by waiting for them to exit the meditation hall first after every sitting meditation or Dhamma talks except when they remain for further meditation.
- Refrain from seeing meditation teachers besides the scheduled interview time and the question-and-answer session.
- After one full day of practice, meditators are scheduled forinterview every day between 4-5 P.M.
- Come to the meditation room on time to avoid disturbing other meditators.
- Open and close the doors gently, slowly and mindfully to minimize noises.
- Meditators should arrive at the meditation room at least five minutes before the daily chanting and Dhamma talk at 6.30 A.M. and 6 P.M.
- Meditators are encouraged to suffuse loving-kindness (mettā) each time at the end of their sitting meditation.
- If communication is needed, please talk to the teachers directly.
Guideline for Reporting during Interview (short version)
Your observation of body and mind should be reported according to the following three-step procedure:
- What object you note i.e. the rising and falling movement of the abdomen or any other object becoming most prominent at the present moment.
- How you note it i.e. how you become aware of it with or without labelling.
- What experience you have of it or what happens to the object when noted i.e. you are aware of its shape, manner or characteristics (individual characteristics or common characteristics).
Meditators are supposed to start the report with their experience of the primary object of rising and falling movement of the abdomen according to the above-mentioned procedure.
(a) I watch the abdomen rises (or falls)
(b) I label it as “rising, rising” (or “falling, falling”)
(c) I become aware of stretching, pressure, stiffness, tension etc. I felt pressure increased gradually (when falling, I felt relief or pressure decreased.)
It is very important to describe your primary object in clear, simple and precise terms with all the accurate details you have observed. Only after that should you continue to report on the secondary objects.
The secondary objects are as detailed but not limited to:
(a) bodily sensations: pain, itch, etc.
(b) Thoughts: ideas, planning, remembering, thinking, etc.
(c) Emotions: anger, pride, joy, happiness, etc.
(d) Noises (hearing), images (seeing), etc.
While mindfully following the primary object, if any of the above secondary objects become prominent (more than the primary object), meditators turn the mind toward that object and mindfully observe it. During the interview, after the reporting on the primary object, meditators also report the experience of the secondary objects according to the above three-step procedure.
- Body sensation is the most prominent secondary object:
- (a) I felt painful on the knee or pain arose in my knee.
- (b) I noted it as “pain, pain.”
- (c) I found it changed from stabbing pain to hard pain.
- (d) I noted as “hard, hard.”
- (e) I felt it as slow pulsating hardness, later found it decreased, and after a few minutes disappeared.
- (f) Then, I went back to the primary object which is the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
- Thoughts and emotions as the most prominent secondary objects:
When reporting different kinds of thoughts such as planning, imagining, judging, daydreaming, etc, or emotions such as anger, frustration, happiness, etc, meditators should report them objectively without mentioning whom or what they are thinking about or who or what makes them angry, etc.
- (a) I found myself deep in thoughts.
- (b) I noted as “thinking, thinking” (in general) or “planning, planning” or “remembering, remembering (in specific).”
- (c) I felt myself angry.
- (d) I noted “anger, anger.”
- (e) I found it disappeared after a while.
- (f) Then, I went back to the primary object which is the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
A Sample of a Comprehensive Report
I note the rising and falling movement of the abdomen as a primary object of meditation. When I note the rising, I experience tension and heaviness. I then noted the falling as “falling, falling,” my experience of falling was not clear. I found my mind wandered and noted it as “wandering, wandering,” and after a while it stopped. I then went back to the primary object of rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
And then, a pain arose in my knee, I noted it as “pain, pain” but it intensified and began to throb. I noted “throbbing, throbbing” then it lessened and finally disappeared. I then returned to the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
Suddenly, a sound occurred. I noted “hearing, hearing” and meanwhile an itch took place in the face. I noted it as “itching, itching.” After a while, the itch disappeared and I then returned to the primary object of the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.”
An Advice to Meditators
- Report your own experience, not imaginary images or made-up stories.
- Keep your interview short and to the point by following the above-mentioned procedure and reporting examples.
- Labelling or noting must go concurrently along with precise awareness of the object. Otherwise, it will bring no result.
- Help the meditation teacher to help you develop insights by practising diligently as instructed and by reporting your practice experience properly as suggested.
THAI NEW YEAR (SONGKRANT) CELEBRATION
SUNDAY 15th APRIL 2018
THE BUDDHAPADIPA TEMPLE
14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5HJ
The Buddhapadipa Temple and the Young Buddhist Group of the UK will celebrate Thai New Year (Songkrant) on Sunday 15th April 2018. This is an annual celebration. The religious ceremony will be performed throughout the day. In order to make the day much more enjoyable there will be 25 Thai food, Thai groceries and souvenirs stallholders on sale all day. There will also be the Thai Cultural Shows and Miss Songkran Contests.
Māgha Pūjā day marks the four auspicious occasions occurring at the Veḷuvana bamboo grove, near Rājagaha in northern India ten months after the enlightenment of the Buddha. On that occasion, as recorded in the commentary to the Mahāsamayasutta (DN 20) four marvellous events occurred:
- 1,250 disciples came to see the Buddha that evening without being summoned.
- All of them were Arahants, Enlightened Ones, and
- All were ordained by the Buddha himself: Ehi-bhikkhus.
- It was the full-moon day.
On this occasion the Buddha gave those Arahants the principles of Buddhism, called “The ovadapatimokha”. Those principles are: To cease from all evil; To do what is good; To cleanse one’s mind. In Thailand, this teaching has been dubbed the “heart of Buddhism”.
CR: Wiki Pedia
The ceremony will take place on the 4th March 2018 at the Buddhapadipa Temple, Wimbledon London from 9.30am – 3.00pm. Full program of the day will update on the front page this site. If you would like to get more information about this, please make a call to 0208 946 1357 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
We have come to a couple of related ideas which are common in Buddhism and they are the ideas of karma and rebirth. These ideas are closely inter-related, but because the subject is a fairly wide one, we will begin to deal with the idea of karma todayand rebirth in another lecture.
We know that what binds us in samsara are the defilements — desire, ill-will and ignorance. We spoke about this when we talked about the Second Noble Truth — the truth of the cause of suffering. These defilements are something which every living being in samsara shares, whether we speak of human beings or animals or beings who live in the other realms which we do not normally perceive. In this, all living beings are alike and yet amongst all the living beings that we can normally perceive, there are many differences. For instance, some of us are wealthy, some are less wealthy, some are strong and healthy, others are disabled and so forth. There are many differences amongst living beings and even more so there are differences between animals and human beings. These differences are due to karma.
What we all share - desire, ill-will and ignorance - are common to all living beings, but the particular condition in which we find ourselves is the result of our particular karma that conditions the situation in which we find ourselves, the situation in which we may be wealthy, strong and so forth. These circumstances are decided by karma. It is in this sense that karma explains the differences amongst living beings. It explains why some beings are fortunate while others are less fortunate, some are happy while others are less happy. The Buddha has specifically stated that karma explains the differences between living beings. You might also recall that the understanding of how karma affects the birth of living beings in happy or unhappy circumstances — the knowledge of how living beings move from happy circumstances to unhappy circumstances, and vice versa, from unhappy to happy circumstances as a result of their karma - was part of the Buddha’s experience on the night of His enlightenment. It is karma that explains the circumstances that living beings find themselves in.
Having said this much about the function of karma, let us look more closely at what karma is. Let us define karma. Maybe we can define karma best by first deciding what karma is not. It is quite often the case that we find people misunderstanding the idea of karma. This is particularly true in our daily casual use of the term. We find people saying that one cannot change one’s situation because of one’s karma. In this sense, karma becomes a sort of escape. It becomes similar to predestination or fatalism. This is emphatically not the correct understanding of karma. It is possible that this misunderstanding of karma has come about because of the popular idea that we have about luck and fate. It may be for this reason that our idea of karma has become overlaid in popular thought with the notion of predestination. Karma is not fate or predestination.
If karma is not fate or predestination, then what is it? Let us look at the term itself. Karma means action, means "to do". Immediately we have an indication that the real meaning of karma is not fate because karma is action. It is dynamic. But it is more than simply action because it is not mechanical action. It is not unconscious or involuntary action. It is intentional, conscious, deliberate, willful action. How is it that this intentional, will action conditions or determines our situation? It is because every action must have a reaction, an effect. This truth has been expressed in regard to the physical universe by the great physicist Newton who formulated the law which states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction. In the moral sphere of conscious actions, we have a counterpart to the physical law of action and reaction, the law that every intentional, will action must have its effect. This is why we sometimes speak either of Karma-Vipaka, intentional action and its ripened effect, or we speak of Karma-Phala, intentional action and its fruit. It is when we speak of intentional action together with its effect or fruit that we speak of the Law of Karma.
In its most basic sense, the Law of Karma in the moral sphere teaches that similar actions will lead to similar results. Let us take an example. If we plant a mango seed, the plant that springs up will be a mango tree, and eventually it will bear a mango fruit. Alternatively, if we plant a Pong Pong seed, the tree that will spring up will be a Pong Pong tree and the fruit a Pong Pong. As one sows, so shall one reap. According to one’s action, so shall be the fruit. Similarly, in the Law of Karma, if we do a wholesome action, eventually we will get a wholesome fruit, and if we do an unwholesome action eventually we will get an unwholesome, painful result. This is what we mean when we say that causes bring about effects that are similar to the causes. This we will see very clearly when we come to specific examples of wholesome and unwholesome actions.
We can understand by means of this general introduction that karma can be of two varieties - wholesome karma or good karma and unwholesome karma or bad karma. In order that we should not misunderstand this description of karma, it is useful for us to look at the original term. In this case, it is kushala or akushala karma, karma that is wholesome or unwholesome. In order that we understand how these terms are being used, it is important that we know the real meaning of kushala and akushala. Kushala means intelligent or skilful, whereas akushala means not intelligent, not skilful. This helps us to understand how these terms are being used, not in terms of good and evil but in terms of skilful and unskilful, in terms of intelligent and unintelligent, in terms of wholesome and unwholesome. Now how wholesome and how unwholesome? Wholesome in the sense that those actions which are beneficial to oneself and others, those actions that spring not out of desire, ill-will and ignorance, but out of renunciation, loving-kindness and compassion, and wisdom.
One may ask how does one know whether an action that is wholesome or unwholesome will produce happiness or unhappiness. The answer is time will tell. The Buddha Himself answered the question. He has explained that so long as an unwholesome action does not bear its fruit of suffering, for so long a foolish person will consider that action good. But when that unwholesome action bears its fruit of suffering then he will realize that the action is unwholesome. Similarly, so long as a wholesome action does not bear its fruit of happiness, a good person may consider that action unwholesome. When it bears its fruit of happiness, then he will realize that the action is good. So one needs to judge wholesome and unwholesome action from the point of view of long-term effect. Very simply, wholesome actions result in eventual happiness for oneself and others, while unwholesome actions have the opposite result, they result in suffering for oneself and others.
Specifically, the unwholesome actions which are to be avoided relate to the three doors or means of action, and these are body, speech and mind. There are three unwholesome actions of the body, four of speech and three of mind that are to be avoided. The three unwholesome actions of body that are to be avoided are killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. The four unwholesome actions of speech that are to be avoided are lying, slander, harsh speech and malicious gossip. The three unwholesome actions of mind that are to be avoided are greed, anger and delusion. By avoiding these ten unwholesome actions we will avoid their consequences. The unwholesome actions have suffering as their fruit. The fruit of these unwholesome actions can take various forms. The fully ripened fruit of the unwholesome actions consists of rebirth in the lower realms, in the realms of suffering — hell, hungry ghosts and animals. If these unwholesome actions are not sufficient to result in rebirth in these lower realms, they will result in unhappiness in this life as a human being. Here we can see at work the principle of a cause resulting in a similar effect. For example, habitual killing which is motivated by ill-will and anger and which results in the taking of the life of other beings will result in rebirth in the hells where one’s experience is saturated by anger and ill-will and where one may be repeatedly killed. If killing is not sufficiently habitual or weighty to result in rebirth in the hells, killing will result in shortened life as a human being, separation from loved ones, fear or paranoia. Here too we can see how the effect is similar to the cause. Killing shortens the life of others, deprives others of their loved ones and so forth, and so if we kill we will be liable to experience these effects. Similarly, stealing which is borne of the defilement of desire may lead to rebirth as a hungry ghost where one is totally destitute of desired objects. If it does not result in rebirth as a ghost, it will result in poverty, dependence upon others for one’s livelihood and so forth. Sexual misconduct results in martial distress or unhappy marriages.
While unwholesome actions produce unwholesome results - suffering, wholesome actions produce wholesome results - happiness. One can interpret wholesome actions in two ways. One can simply regard wholesome actions as avoiding the unwholesome actions, avoiding killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and the rest. Or one can speak of wholesome actions in positive terms. Here one can refer to the list of wholesome actions that includes generosity, good conduct, meditation, reverence, service, transference of merits, rejoicing in the merit of others, hearing the Dharma, teaching the Dharma and straightening of one’s own views. Just as unwholesome actions produce suffering, these wholesome actions produce benefits. Again effects here are similar to the actions. For example, generosity results in wealth. Hearing of the Dharma results in wisdom. The wholesome actions have as their consequences similar wholesome effects just as unwholesome actions have similar unwholesome effects.
Karma, be it wholesome or unwholesome, is modified by the conditions under which the actions are performed. In other words, a wholesome or unwholesome action may be more or less strong depending upon the conditions under which it is done. The conditions which determine the weight or strength of karma may be divided into those which refer to the subject — the doer of the action — and those which refer to the object — the being to whom the action is done. So the conditions that determine the weight of karma apply to the subject and object of the action. Specifically, if we take the example of killing, in order for the act of killing to have its complete and unmitigated power, five conditions must be present — a living being, the awareness of the existence of a living being, the intention to kill the living being, the effort or action of killing the living being, and the consequent death of the living being. Here too, we can see the subjective and the objective conditions. The subjective conditions are the awareness of the living being, the intention to kill and the action of killing. The objective conditions are the presence of the living being and the consequent death of the living being.
Similarly, there are five conditions that modify the weight of karma and they are persistent, repeated action; action done with great intention and determination; action done without regret; action done towards those who possess extraordinary qualities; and action done towards those who have benefited one in the past. Here too there are subjective and objective conditions. The subjective conditions are persistent action; action done with intention; and action done without regret. If one does an unwholesome action again and again with great intention and without regret, the weight of the action will be enhanced. The objective conditions are the quality of the object to whom actions are done and the nature of the relationship. In other words, if one does a wholesome or unwholesome action towards living beings who possess extraordinary qualities such as the arhats, or the Buddha, the wholesome or unwholesome action done will have greater weight. Finally the power of wholesome or unwholesome action done towards those who have benefited one in the past, such as one’s parents, teachers and friends, will be greater.
The objective and subjective conditions together determine the weight of karma. This is important because understanding this will help us to understand that karma is not simply a matter of black and white, or good and bad. Karma is moral action and moral responsibility. But the working of the Law of Karma is very finely tuned and balanced so as to match effect with cause, so as to take into account the subjective and objective conditions that determine the nature of an action. This ensures that the effects of actions are equal to and similar to the nature of the causes.
The effects of karma may be evident either in the short term or in the long term. Traditionally we divide karma into three varieties related to the amount of time that is required for the effects of these actions to manifest themselves. Karma can either manifest its effects in this very life or in the next life or only after several lives. When karma manifests its effects in this life, we can see the fruit of karma within a relatively short length of time. This variety of karma is easily verifiable by any of us. For instance, when someone refuses to study, when someone indulges in harmful distractions like alcohol and drugs, when someone begins to steal to support his harmful habits; the effects will be evident within a short time. They will be evident in loss of livelihood and friendship, health and so forth. We cannot see the long-term effect of karma, but the Buddha and His prominent disciples who have developed their minds are able to perceive directly the long-term effects. For instance, when Maudgalyayana was beaten to death by bandits, the Buddha was able to tell that this event was the effect of something Maudgalyayana had done in a previous life when he had taken his aged parents to the forest and having beaten them to death, had then reported that they had been killed by bandits. The effect of this unwholesome action done many lives before was manifested only in his last life. At death we have to leave everything behind — our property and our loved ones, but our karma will accompany us like a shadow. The Buddha has said that nowhere on earth or in heaven can one escape one’s karma. So when the conditions are correct, dependent upon mind and body, the effects of karma will manifest themselves just as dependent on certain conditions a mango will appear on a mango tree. We can see that even in the world of nature certain effects take longer to appear than others. If for instance, we plant the seed of a papaya, we will obtain the fruit in shorter period than if we plant the seed of a durian. Similarly, the effects of karma manifest either in the short term or in the long term.
Besides the two varieties of karma, wholesome and unwholesome karma, we should mention neutral or ineffective karma. Neutral karma is karma that has no moral consequence either because the very nature of the action is such as to have no moral consequence or because it is done involuntarily and unintentionally. For example, sleeping, walking, breathing, eating, handicraft and so forth in themselves have no moral consequence. Similarly, unintentional action is ineffective karma. In other words, if one accidentally steps on an insect, being unconscious of its existence, this also constitutes neutral karma because there is no intention - the intentional element is not there.
The benefits of understanding the Law of Karma are that this understanding discourages one from performing unwholesome actions which have suffering as their fruit. Once we understand that in our own life every action will have a similar and equal reaction, once we understand that we will experience the effect of that action, wholesome or unwholesome, we will refrain from unwholesome behavior, not wanting to experience the effects of these unwholesome actions. And similarly, understanding that wholesome actions have happiness as their fruit, we will cultivate these wholesome actions. Reflecting on the Law of Karma, of action and reaction in the moral sphere encourages us to renounce unwholesome actions and cultivate wholesome actions. We will look more closely at the specific effects of karma in future lives and how karma conditions and determines the nature of rebirth in our lecture next week.
Extract from "Fundamentals of Buddhism", by Dr. Peter Della Santina.