Dhamma Discussion at Wat Wangtagu
Sujin: In order to listen to and study the dhamma to understand of the intricate dhamma of vipassana, there must be knowledge, understanding from the very start. Vipassana is the supreme panna of Buddhism, through which the person who realizes the characteristics of realities is able to completely eradicate kilesa. There is so much kilesa that, without true panna, there can be no eradication. One listens to the dhamma so that each time right understanding would arise as panna, which must evolve level by respective level. Therefore I believe that if this were to be a dhamma discussion it would be very beneficent, as time is limited.
Would the reverend bhikkhu interested in the discussion please lead the session.
Bhikkhu: I would like to ask about the practice of samadhi, with which all those with vipassana would be familiar. The obstacles of samadhi are the five nivarana. I would like to ask you how one might overcome these hindrances?
Sujin: Buddhism, or the teachings of the Sammasambuddha the Arahanta, teaches one to develop panna. Before the enlightenment of the Buddha samadhi had long been greatly developed, so much so that the citta was peaceful unto the level of upacara- and appana-samadhi. The rupa-jhana and arupa-jhana were attained, and still they were unable to realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma. Therefore in the Tipitaka there is the term sati-patthana, not samadhi-patthana. This shows that to know the characteristics of realities of the present moment must be with the mindfulness of sati. The development of sati-patthana is very intricate, therefore the understanding of dhamma must proceed by respective levels. Firstly, what is dhamma?
Some of those who seek the dhamma would read books that are adaptations of the tipitaka to facilitate comprehension. In reality one must understand thoroughly that without really studying one can misunderstand the dhamma because many who study and seek the dhamma do not know that the present instant is dhamma. Therefore one must study to comprehend from the very beginning, right from the first word, 'dhamma', which the Buddha manifested and with which he was enlightened. He did not manifest what had been practiced before his enlightenment, but what made the listeners thoroughly understand the characteristics of realities that truly exist.
First of all we must then understand the word 'dhamma' or the characteristics thereof. To develop sati-patthana is to develop panna, to know the truth about realities about which the Buddha was enlightened and which he manifested, in the Vinaya Pitaka, the Suttanta Pitaka as well as the Abhidhamma Pitaka. All this is the dhamma, the study of which are paccaya for sati-patthana to arise.
Bhikkhu: I would like you to explain the meaning of the word 'dhamma' more clearly to facilitate learning and studying.
Sujin: Sir, dhamma is what really exists. The Buddha was enlightened about the dhamma, or about what is truly real. No one knew that what was real was the dhamma before his enlightenment, because they saw it as people, animals, us, them, and things. But he became enlightened that all dhamma are anatta, all are not the selves, entities, persons, nor objects of any kind that are lasting. But the characteristics of dhamma are realities that truly exist now. One must carefully consider, study and examine them respectively. For example, what really exists now? Seeing really exists. Sound really exists. The citta that hears or knows sound really exists. Happiness exists. The characteristics of hardness exist. The reality that knows hardness exists. All this is dhamma.
Therefore one must study to correctly understand that without realities that arise and appear, what we used to take for 'us' would not exist. But because there are conditions for one reality or another to arise, one would take it for one or one's because of ignorance. For example, rupa, from head to toe, arise from paccaya (conditions) composing it, but because of ignorance there is clinging to the rupa as one. Even the states of mind or the feelings of happiness or unhappiness arise because of conditions but one takes them for one because of ignorance.
With the study of the dhamma, one correctly sees that all one has taken for oneself are specific sorts of realities that truly exist. They truly exist because they arise and appear. If they did not arise and appear, no one would be able to know, see or understand them. But because at this very instant realities that appear truly exist, they have arisen, and having arisen they fall away, exactly according to the tilakkhana: anicca, dukkha, anatta. That is to say, whatever dhamma arises from paccaya, that reality arises then falls away, impermanent, as anatta.
Bhikkhu: In this context do the words 'truly exist' mean truly exist from the perspective of paccaya, or of rupa- or dhatu-khandha?
Sujin: Truly exist also from appearing and to be known, sir. They have characteristics that appear and are known through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body sense, they are realities that truly exist in daily life.
Bhikkhu: But not because of paccaya that is ready and fully composed, to really appear.
Sujin: Things that truly exist or that appear must be composed by paccaya in order to arise. Whatever does not arise could never appear. The dhamma must be gradually understood in the right order: What appears now has arisen; if it had not, it would not appear. It arose because of paccaya (conditions) composing it. Had there been no paccaya, it could not have arisen.
Bhikkhu: Could you please explain the meaning of the phrase, 'to really exist due to the composition of paccaya' so that the person who practices might understand and arrive at the process of satipatthana.
Sujin: One must know that there are four truths that are the paramattha-dhamma. The word 'paramattha-dhamma' comes from parama+attha+dhamma. Attha, or the characteristics of things, is something that cannot be changed by anyone. All the realities that exist on earth, elsewhere, and in the universe must be citta, cetasika, or rupa without exception. The other paramatthadhamma, namely nibbana, does not arise, as opposed to citta, cetasika and rupa.
Therefore to know the core of the dhamma or the actual dhamma itself is to know the reality that truly exists, the characteristics of which are unalterable by anyone, making it the abhidhamma, or the great dhamma. This is what the Buddha manifested and compiled into the Abhidhamma Pitaka which treats uniquely the abhidhamma, whose characteristics are unalterable by anyone.
One example is hardness. When in contact with anything, the hard characteristics appear. One cannot change the characteristics of hardness to anything else. Nor can coldness be changed to hardness or anything else when there is the contact of cold.
This shows that realities are dhatu, or things that truly exist. None can change the characteristics that arise and fall away in the least. Three realities, namely, citta, cetasika and rupa area realities that arise and then fall away. There are two kinds of realities, nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma. Citta and cetasika are nama-dhamma, or the reality that arises to know something that arises to be known. While the rupa-dhamma arises it is unable to know anything. One must understand the characteristics that are paramatthadhamma in order to be able to develop panna to know the truth about dhamma.
Bhikkhu: This is wondrous, with the flow of the panna-nana of the speaker. For us there still are reservations that to achieve the constituents, to enter the flow of the dhamma, the reality that appears from paccaya, is rather difficult. Many listeners, myself included, have arammana, citta phenomena and illusions which might prevent us from reaching the beneficent elements of the term 'to know the realities that appear'. Please explain how we might achieve this.
Sujin: Buddhism manifested that all dhamma are anatta, not oneself. One does not exist. The self does not exist that one used to take for oneself, because it is distinct kinds of realities, namely citta, cetasika and rupa.
A 'cetasika' is a reality that arises with the citta such as attachment, which is lobha; displeasure, which is dosa; ignorance about the characteristics of realities that appear, which is moha; as well as other realities in daily life. For example diligence really exists but is not a citta, it is a cetasika.
Therefore the study of dhamma must proceed level by level. Otherwise one would not be able to understand anything. Just as when one goes to school one has to start at the beginning and gradually develop, the study of dhamma must be done attentively. Since the dhamma that the Buddha manifested was from the supreme panna of the Sammasambuddha, the person who reads the Tipitaka without studying could misunderstand because the dhamma is a very intricate reality. It takes study and consideration to gradually really understand the dhamma in the right order. Those who have experienced certain situations but do not understand or misunderstand them would be able to understand once they study the dhamma. This is because before there was wrong view, taking realities for oneself, for others and for the self, but after having studied the dhamma, one knows that they are distinct types of realities. Every single thing is dhamma, even things that are not entities nor people are rupa-dhamma since they truly exist. Therefore one must first understand the different characteristics of the dhamma that are nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma. There must be understanding that gradually develops, since if there is the misunderstanding that it is one, or the self who tries to know something, there can be no relinquishment of ignorance.
Bhikkhu: I am still wondering about how to arrive at the beneficial elements of the dhamma, according to what you are saying.
Sujin: By studying level by level, beginning with the level of understanding what the dhamma really is. Dhamma is what really exists this instant. One can check one's knowledge, to see that one does not understand how realities at this moment are dhamma. For example at this moment there are sounds. Sound certainly exists. But without the reality that knows, which are nama-dhamma without any shape or form, but a kind of different from the rupa-dhatu. The Rupa-dhatu is not able to know anything, unlike the nama-dhatu. The nama-dhatu is formless, a dhatu which, once arisen, has to know something. Thus it is the nama-dhatu consisting of citta and cetasika this instant, arising and falling away simultaneously. At the instant sound appears, there must be the element that knows sound, namely hearing. Without the dhatu that knows, there would be only rupa, and whatever is here cannot appear at all. Even though there is sound in this pavilion, the pillars can't hear, nor can the electric fan. The reality that is not the reality that knows cannot hear or think. But for anything to appear in this world, there must be the dhatu that knows arising, and it must experience what is appearing, to see, hear, smell, taste, know body sense contact or think. These are the characteristics of nama-dhamma, namely citta and cetasika.
Therefore before developing panna unto the level of clear realization of the characteristics of realities, there must be the study of the dhamma to really understand that at this instant, everything that appears and really exists is one of two kinds of dhamma; either nama-dhamma or rupa-dhamma.
Bhikkhu: We generally confuse to really understand with to remember. Usually we feel that to understand is to have read many books, to have finished several classes and to have graduated from numerous courses . But although the process you talk about might seem similar, it differs because of the depth of understanding which is not like memory or the ability to recite things. Please explain to clarify the differences between to understand, and to remember, memorize and collect data.
Sujin: One would never be able to find the dhamma if one studies the subject without knowing where the dhamma is, because that would only be knowing the issue. For example, to read the Tipitaka, whether the Suttanta- or the Abhidhamma-, or even the Vinaya-Pitaka, is all to read about stories or issues without knowing where realities are. But if we really understand that there are realities appearing at each moment, that life is never without dhamma, at the moment of birth it is the dhamma that arises, at the moment of seeing the dhamma sees, thinking, the dhamma thinks, then we would understand that to study the dhamma is not to study a subject in a book, in texts, but to understand the present reality, which is the dhamma, something avijja can never know. Avijja is a reality that is real, akusala, which arises to keep us from seeing the reality of what appears, which is not entities, people of the self. Therefore one must also understand why we study the dhamma. It is to understand the dhamma itself, which is each instant of one's life from birth til death . It can be comprehended, sir.
Bhikkhu: From what you say, to really study the dhamma from birth til death does not seem to concern texts, or letters in any languages, but is about understanding and awareness. Generally we think that to understand anything one has to study, memorize, read and write, read books. It seems to be something else in the same book, to say that the life that is dhamma are realities within oneself, is that correct?
Sujin: Education in worldly subjects is a matter of memorization, the connotations of things that exist. But the study of the Dhamma manifested by the Buddha enables one to know at which moments there are memories and which understanding. For example to hear the name nama-dhamma and the definition that 'rupa-dhamma' truly exists but is unable to know anything, it just arises and falls away, this is just the understanding of the term 'rupa-dhamma'. As to the 'nama-dhamma', it is the reality that really exists, shapeless and formless, without any color whatsoever, but once arisen has to be a dhatu that knows, that arises to know somethig and then falls away. For example right now there is nama-dhamma arising to hear sound, to know that this is the characteristics of sound that appears, at that instant there is a kind of nama-dhamma, a dhatu. Dhamma and dhatu are interchangeable.
Therefore when we understand the real dhamma, one would know that it is not the memorization of names with which to reply to questions. It is the real knowledge of where dhamma is and what the true characteristics of dhamma are, exactly according to what the Buddha manifested. For example, now sound exists. It is not a nama-dhamma, because its characteristic is to appear when in contact with the ears. On the other hand, there must also be a reality that hears, otherwise sound cannot appear. Only those who study in this manner would understand the characteristic of nama-dhamma, since at this moment there are nama-dhamma that is seeing, nama-dhamma that is hearing. If there were a dead person here, he would neither see nor hear, because there is no nama-dhamma, no citta nor cetasika to arise to be conscious of what appears.
Therefore nama-dhamma is the reality that we used to refer to as heart and mind. It is the reality that feels, that knows something that appears through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body sense and mind. The rupa that arise with beings and humans are different from those that do not arise with beings because they are only rupa-dhamma, such as trees, and grass. They neither see, nor hear anything. Whenever there is seeing or hearing, regardless of the physical appearance, whether that of a bird or an elephant or an ant, the seeing is a dhatu that knows, that is able to see what the color now appearing is. Then when there is the dhatu that knows arising to know sound, there can be knowledge of the characteristics of sounds, the characteristics of which are distinct one from the other. The sounds of drum, flutes, people, birds, all have different characteristics yet the reality or the dhatu that knows is able to clearly and accurately hear the sounds appearing. These are the characteristics of nama-dhatu. Nama-dhamma are differentiated into two types, namely citta and cetasika. The citta is the principal reality to precisely know the characteristics of the aramana, but it does not remember, love or hate the aramana. The reality that arises with each instant of citta would function as the different types of cetasika, such as lobha, which is the reality that is attached to the aramana of the instant.
Bhikkhu: Are you leading us to the Mahasatipatthana Sutta?
Sujin: Yes, sir. But not to listen to the name, Mahasatipatthana Sutta, but to begin to acquire the basic knowledge of what panna knows because satipatthana is mindful of what exists and is appearing. Thus panna could know the real characteristics as not just words or the Buddha's teachings in the Tipitaka but the manifestation of realities that truly exist at each instant to be correctly known.
Bhikkhu: Please explain the Mahasatipatthana Sutta.
Sujin: You are probably familiar with the term, the eightfold magga, sir, beginning with sama-dhitthi, the right view. The right view is another word for panna. Panna never misunderstands, while miccha ditthi is wrong view, which is unable to understand realities that are appearing.
First of all I respectfully ask you to please determine whether you wish to study, listen and consider the dhamma to increase understanding of the dhamma or to practice with the self doing the practice. For without correctly understanding the dhamma, there is still the self to the fullest, then there is the desire to practice, without first conscientiously studying even the Pali term, pati-pati. Pati means specifically, and pati means to reach or to see. In reality pati-pati or to practice is to have sati arising to be aware when any reality arises and appears. The sati would be aware of the characteristics of the reality appearing respectively. The moment of seeing is not the instant of hearing, nor the instant of thinking; but a nama-dhamma reality that arises and falls away extremely rapidly. Therefore to be able to know the true characteristics of realities as not at all ourselves, since they are distinct kinds of realities that arise because of conditions and fall away swiftly as opposed to the selves who want to realize the arisings and falling aways. For there has to be panna, right understanding, samma-ditthi that has been developed unto the level that is able to know the truth about realities level by respective level.
Therefore first we must clearly understand in detail to have dhamma as sarana, according to the words, 'those without panna are unable to have the triple gem as refuge'
Buddhism is the teaching that brings panna because it is the teaching of the enlightened. Therefore when the listener has the opportunity to hear it, he is able to understand how much there is of right view, right understanding of what is heard, at the moment of listening. Or is there desire for something else, wanting to do, to see, to know something without realizing that at that moment there is no panna, but lobha instead.
The reality that is sati is a sobhana-dhamma, a dhamma of the good side that can never arise with the dhamma of the bad side. Therefore to do anything by attachment, pleasure, and intention is wrong, because sati has to be sobhana. In daily life, therefore, sati would arise with citta that are kusala. This is just roughly speaking. More specifically, sati is sobhana, and so would arise with other kinds of citta or citta of different jati, such as vipaka-citta which are the result of kamma that could be either kusala, or kiriya-citta. Meticulous study would make us begin to understand correctly that dhamma really exists. Only when we listen do we understand, and while we listen we must listen well, with intention to understand what we hear, to be able to deliberate whether what is heard is correct or not. If it is not, then it is not what the Buddha taught. But if correct, it would be true toto realities actually appearing. To listen or to study would increase the understanding of the dhamma each time, so that panna would develop gradually until it becomes paccaya, as a sankhara-khandha, composing sat of another level to arise as sati-patthana.
Bhikkhu: May I ask the meaning of the word correct. What is the meaning , the procedure or the verification of correct or incorrect realities?
Sujin: Correct according to the reality that is appearing, sir.
Bhikkhu: Without prior knowledge, when we see and understand, feel, pay attention, we can prove the reality that appears is correct, and thus know reality, know correctly?
Sujin: Without studying, one could not know. For example, there are rupa dhamma and nama dhamma from head to toe which are separate dhamma. Rupa dhamma are realities that really exist, but which cannot experience anything. But to touch the body some might think that rupa can feel because they do not understand that at that instant there is actually another kind of reality that is not rupa but depend upon the rupa to arise. For example through the eyes now, there is seeing. Without the chakkhu pasada or the optical nerves which are special rupa with which things appearing through the eyes can come into contact, or without the kamma as paccaya for the pasada rupa to arise, at this instant what is appearing through the eyes cannot appear.
This is right understanding according to the truth that realities exist. For there must be paccaya to create the reality that sees, for what is seen to appear. A blind person could never know the characteristics of colors and aspects, colors and aspects do not appear because there is no paccaya to create the dhatu that knows color, or sight. This is right understanding. If we see realities as ourselves one would not know that there is no us, only realities.
Bhikkhu: Say that a blind person does not know color or form, still they are able to smell, feel heat, softness and hardness. Would that be knowing realities correctly?
Sujin: Everyone comes into contact with something hard. Anyone asked could tell it is hard, even a child. But that is not panna. Therefore one must understand a certain reality that the Buddha called in conventional terms, 'panna', together with several other names for different levels of increased understanding of respective levels. Therefore it must be correctly understood that 'panna cetasika' is not the panna of the worldly sense. We may be able to study worldly sciences that are ignorant of realities themselves, being only memories of connotations of the dhamma which itself arises and falls away in extremely rapid succession, and is taken for something. No matter what the sciences or discipline, for example in medical sciences, there would be memorization of the shapes and forms of rupa dhamma, distinct colors and aspects, to be conventionally termed as the heart, liver, lungs, spleens, etc. But when do the real characteristics of things appear? When there is chakkhu pasada, only color and aspects can appear. When there is contact, only cold or heat, softness or hardness or motion or tension can appear. Therefore true realities when the citta rapidly arises to know each separate thing. This is because the citta arises one at a time, it cannot arise in twos in the same person, nor can several kinds of citta arises at the same time. Each person can only have an instant at a time of dhatu that is predominant in knowing something that appears through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body sense, and even the mind that thinks, only thinks one word at a time.
Each person's citta arise one at a time. The citta is the principal reality pre-eminent in clearly knowing the characteristic of things appearing, only, it does not remember, is not happy or unhappy. Happiness or unhappiness that arise from seeing or hearing are the characteristics of the cetasika, or the reality that arises with the citta. Cetasika knows the same aramana as the citta: whatever aramana the citta knows, that aramana is also known by the cetasika.
Another Pali word is 'aramana', used together with the term 'citta' because the citta is the reality or the dhatu that knows, and when it arises it must know something that is appearing. Since citta is the reality that knows, there must be something that is known by the citta. Whatever the citta is knowing, that is the 'aramana' of that citta. When hardness comes into contact, sound appears whether in the forest, outside this pavilion, or anywhere else. But sound that does not appear is not aramana because at that instant there is no citta that experiences that aramana or that sound. Whatever sound arises, it then falls away, whether or not it is heard or not. But whenever sound appears, it is obvious that sound appears to the reality that knows or the citta that is hearing sound. Therefore we must rightly understand that realities rapidly arise and fall away in continuation as well as what each instant of reality is.
In worldly matters when we say that this or that person is intelligent is when they can remember connotations without knowing the reality itself. Therefore worldly knowledge where people have different capabilities is not the same as panna cetasika. For the panna cetasika must understand correctly, rightly know realities that appear according to the truth, level by level. Then it would be samma-ditthi or panna cetasika.
Bhikkhu: You are telling us that realities that are straight and true arise from the procedures of the citta, to be samma-ditthi of panna cetasika.
Sujin: Buddhism manifests realities in great detail. The truth is that life exists only for an instant of citta that arises and falls away. But all citta that arise have santati as paccaya to make the next instant of citta arise in sequence immediately that citta falls away. When you recite the abhidhamma there would be the terms hetu-paccayo, aramana-paccayo, natthi-paccayo, vigata-paccayo; meaning nama-dhamma that has arisen falls away, becoming paccaya for other nama to arise in sequence. When this instant of citta arises and falls, the falling away or the extinction of this instant of citta is the paccaya for the next instant of citta to arise. If this instant of citta doesn't fall away, isn't extinguished, the next instant of citta can never arise.
Therefore everyone has only one instant of citta, one at a time, arising and falling away in continuation from birth til death and birth again and again death. From incalculably long ago when the citta arose, performed a certain function and then fall away, the next instant of citta arose and fell away, and arose again and fell away again. Hence khanika-marana, the death of each instant of reality, not the sammati-marana of the conventional death of being born and dying when time comes, though the citta arises in continuation as the patisandhi-citta. Thus it is not the samuccheda-marana or real death without rebirth of the arahanta term for which we use the term 'parinibbhana'.
Therefore to have the right understanding of the characteristics of realities one must study the dhamma and then one would begin to have the right understanding of realities. Not that we would realize or wish to see realities, but in order to develop panna or right understanding. And then to realize that right understanding begins to grow until it becomes sati-patthana that is mindful of realities according to what one has rightly understood.
Bhikkhu: This means that the study of the dhamma must be without the 'I' or 'mine'.
Sujin: To say there is no 'I' or it is not 'me' is only thinking, because at that instant panna has not realized the characteristics of the reality that is not me. The reality that is not I is the reality that is rupa-dhamma is truly rupa-dhamma and that which is nama-dhamma is truly nama-dhamma. Whenever panna is able to know the characteristics of nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma correctly and separately, it will gradually abandon the self or being me. Until the attachment to wrong view that realities are the self would become extinguished as the sota-magga-citta arises to realize nibbana, eradicating uncertainty and ignorance and misunderstanding about the characteristics of realities completely. Whatever kilesa has been completely eradicated, they could never arise again.
Bhikkhu: Someone asked me this morning whether the study of the pariyati-dhamma could go together with dhamma practice. From your answers it seems clear that they can, if there is no 'self' or 'mine' in the study or the dhamma practice.
Sujin: There are three levels to the dhamma the Buddha taught. Pariyati-sasana is the study to first understand the stories or theories to the realities that exist. Without listening to the dhamma, there would be no understanding of what the dhamma is, where it is or whether at this instant there is the self or the dhamma. But with right understanding another level of panna is reached, there is paccaya for mindfulness, of the characteristics of the realities at this present instant, to arise, not just listening to the theories about the realities at this instant. At this instant realities arise and fall away. Performing their specific functions without there being mindfulness of the characteristics of the realities in the least. There is only listening to understand the theories about present realities, until there is increased understanding as paccaya, as sankhara khandha for mindfulness, of the characteristics of the realities studied and understood, to arise. Then there would gradually be mindful study of another level: the adhi-sila-sikkha, adhi-citta-sikkha and adhi-panna-sikkha, until there is realization of realities according to what one has learned. Therefore pariyati, patipati and pativedha must must be true one to the other, completely inseparable. For a person without pariyati, the study to understand theories about realities to practice would practice wrong. For a person who had not studied to practice would mean that he could not have the dhamma as sarana, because he would think it up himself without studying the dhamma taught by the Buddha the Arahanta in the least. And they would be wrong, since none is able to have the knowledge or to understand the dhamma without studying at all. Therefore there must be consideration and examination to understand the completeness of the dhamma manifested in all the levels of pariyati, patipati and pativedha.
Bhikkhu: I believe we are entering the flow of satipatthana rather unconsciously. I feel that this is the right method, in which we gradually add and finally fill up, and which we can understand although some might still be a little confused.
Please take the opportunity to take us to the satipatthana sutta which is pure understanding and feelings without the word self.
Sujin: Buddhism is the sasana that creates panna to the Buddhists of the Buddhist order who study the teachings. The highest beneficent Sammasambuddha the arahanta impart was that panna arose in those who study, themselves. He did not distribute treasures or riches because they can all disappear, but what is extremely difficult to obtain is panna. Before he achieved that he had to develop his parami throughout four asonkaya and a hundred thousand kappa to become enlightened as the Sammasambuddha the Arahanta in order to manifest the dhamma so that others might listen, study and develop panna til they are able to realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma according to the dhamma taught.
Panna is thus supreme. Buddhists should know the Buddha was perfect in his panna to achieve Buddhahood, complete with bala-nana to manifest the dhamma which might be examined by the listener to become their own panna. Therefore when you said just now that we are entering the flow of satipatthana it means we are beginning to understand, to have right view of the characteristics of realities, in the theories about realities. But there is no one to do, to practice. One must gradually consider and examine at the level of listening, correctly, that there is no self, only realities. To know that all are dhamma would be a reminder, a sanna or memory to render sati-patthana mindful of the characteristics of realities. Sati-patthana is the reality that is mindful of the characteristics of realities appearing as they truly are. For example this instant there is seeing, sati-patthana would arise to know the characteristics of nama-dhamma or rupa-dhamma. The say the word mindful, however, does not mean to be able to be mindful as learned, for example that the five khandha are rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana-khandha. But to really not understand at all, there would be the self who practice. If anyone wishes to practice it shows that they did not understand the five khandha, the dhamma, the paramatthadhamma nor the abhidhamma that the Buddha manifested and with which he was enlightened. While those who understand the dhamma would know all are abhidhamma, and recognize the five khandha as citta, cetasika and rupa.
Rupa of all kinds and types are rupa-khandha, (collection) or category of rupa, which are unable to know or experience anything in the least. No matter the rupa in the past, present or future, the rupa can not know anything, neither can the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, nor the earth, water, fire or wind elements.
Therefore the rupa-khandha is the dhamma of the rupa side, no matter past, present or future, near or far, coarse or refined, within or outside. The rupa that arise and fall away, in the past, present and future are all rupa-khandha.
Vedana-cetasika is the reality that feels glad, sorry, indifferent, happy, or unhappy. It is the vedana-khandha, no matter the vedana of the past, present or future, etc., in the same manner.
Sanna-cetasika is that reality that remembers, the sanna-khandha. In the past it remembered different connotations, even now it is memorizing every instant. Sanna-cetasika must arise with all citta, as does vedana-cetasika.
All citta are vinnana-khandha. Vedana-khandha is the vedana-cetasika, sanna-khandha is the sanna-cetasika, sankhara-khandha intends the fifty cetasikas (remaining): sati is a sankhara-khandha, so is panna, viriya and lobha.
All nama-dhamma in daily life that are not citta are cetasika. The cetasika that are neither vedana nor sanna are all sankhara-khandha.
Therefore there is no self to practice. Panna is a sankhara-khandha. The instant of hearing and understanding, there is the beginning of the accumulation composing mindfulness to know the characteristics of realities appearing. Thus satipatthana is a personal matter, not something anyone can tell another to practice anything. But one must have the correct knowledge whether one has the right understanding of realities appearing enough to know whether they are really dhamma or not. After conscientious examination and knowing that they are indeed dhamma, there would be paccaya for sati to arise and be mindful of the characteristics of the nama-dhamma or rupa-dhamma. The sati of that moment is thus sati-patthana, mindfulness through the kaya, vedana, citta, and dhamma, comprising the citta, cetasika, and rupa above.
Bhikkhu: There is a question (from the audience): why is there no meditation or sitting samadhi in this satipatthana teachings?
Sujin: Pardon me, sir. We are seated now, there is no need to change anything. For realities arise and fall away very rapidly, no one can arrange anything. If one arranges to change physical positions or behave in a particular pattern, at that moment there is the self and not the sati that is mindful of the characteristics of realities that arise from paccaya. Without paccaya they would not arise. None can have uniquely kusala citta at all times. They immediately become akusala citta of diverse kinds according to paccaya. None can stop this from happening. Sati is able, however, to be mindful of the characteristics as dhamma, something real. At that moment there is no self, nor ours. No matter in whom lobha arises, its characteristics is to be attached, whether it arises in a child or an adult, or an animal or whomever, and wherever. There is lobha in the heavenly planes, in the brahma worlds. Lobha remains lobha, or a dhatu, a reality that is characterized by attachment to what appears.
Therefore we see that we do not have to do anything. If we did something, it would be done because we did not understand the dhamma. But if we understood, we would know that dhamma arises because of paccaya. Even the sati that is mindful arises from paccaya. Hence the two terms 'with sati' and 'forgetting sati' or when sati does not arise. Therefore it is not to do or practice anything.
Bhikkhu: We can see that the Mahasatipatthana-Sutta does not have a method, time, symptom, accessory or tools, rather it is everything in life, breath and nerve cells in our body, that creates this procedure of Mahasatipatthana through absorption of the process, through understanding the study, the experience and proving to comprehend. (…) As Tan Achaan Sujin said, there must not be any self in the satipatthana, is that correct?
Sujin: To abandon the self immediately is not possible, even in this instant while we are listening to theories about the dhamma, about nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma. There must be knowledge whether as one listens one has begun to more correctly comprehend, or almost rightly understand that one does not have to go sit and think of practicing or about satipatthana, because at this instant everything is satipatthana. But if one has no idea what sati is like, one mistakes the moment of concentration or theoretical knowledge for sati. But that is not the characteristics of sati, it is rather the characteristics of samadhi. There are two kinds of samadhi, samma-samadhi and miccha-samadhi. Without studying, when one hears the word, 'samadhi', one would become instantly interested and want to practice it, because for the most part people live a busy life so they do not want to be troubled by all sorts of events. They think that if they did not have to be involved and if they could calm their minds, it would be pleasant. Taking pleasure in the pleasantness, because they desire the pleasant feeling, they practice so that they might ease their minds. But there is no panna. At that instant it is not the development of samatha or vipassana which is satipatthana, since all other kusala can be developed without panna except for bhavana (mental development). Bhavana literally means develop, so there must be panna to be developed. It cannot be done with ignorance and then the desire to practice because they think that to do so would bring merit or beneficence. Buddhism, however, is about 'knowledge and relinquishment'. Relinquishment and abandonment is not the function of lobha, nor that of akusala, but that of panna cetasika, which realizes the truth and then is able to relinquish. Panna relinquishes attachments, thus any instant there is lobha, there could be no panna. While any instant there is panna, there can be no lobha. There would be no desire to do anything without knowledge, without understanding. Therefore one would begin to listen to and consider the dhamma and be able to know how much one understands. First of all one must know the characteristics of sati, to be able to develop satipatthana. In other words, with the understanding of the characteristics of sati as paccaya, satipatthana would arise, otherwise it could not. Even for samatha-bhavana, at which moment there is sati-sampajanna, one must be able to know the differences between kusala and akusala citta. When one sees the harm of akusala, sati sampajanna or panna would be able to know which aramana to be mindful of for the citta to be calm. At that moment there must be kusala and not lobha desires tranquility. If there were lobha that wants calmness, at that moment there is no panna, therefore there must be miccha-samadhi.
The dhamma that the Buddha manifested in the Tipitaka has benefited the Buddhist order from those days to the present time, for over 2500 years. This demonstrates the intricacy of the dhamma which prevents any misunderstanding. But only those who study would be able to distinguish between the instants of wrong from those of right view, the instants of the eightfold miccha-magga from those of the eightfold samma-magga, which normally are fivefold.
These matters must be studied and understood. One must not take samadhi as sati. There is no self to want to see the arising and falling away of realities. If there were, there would be complete ignorance. Therefore one must know that to correctly understand the characteristics of realities, there must be no self, one must know that it is the dhamma that knows. As long as it is we who know, we cannot get rid of the self. The more the practice, the more the self increases: we achieve, we see, we know. But there is no relinquishing, because at that moment there is the self, the we.
This is why there must be meticulous consideration, without passing over any syllable surreptitiously thinking that one already correctly understands. For example the word, 'miccha-samadhi' is in the Tipitaka. Also the terms 'samma-samadhi', middha-samadhi and miccha-magga, but without studying, one would think that all samadhi must be good be samma, which is wrong. So don't be preoccupied with sati-patthana, panna of a higher level, since panna of a high level could arise only from right understanding at the very beginning, which is the starting point of panna. Panna would then gradually develop from listening, considering and comprehending until it becomes sankhara-khandha to compose satipatthana to be mindful of the characteristics of realities appearing this instant, at which time there would be satipatthana. Does sati arise to know the characteristics of what is appearing now? If at this instant there is no mindfulness of realities appearing, then it is not satipatthana. The listeners of old, however, when they heard the dhamma the satipatthana would arise and they would be able to realize the truth of paramatthadhamma with the panna that the understanding of what is heard brings. It is not that they did not have any panna, or had not heard the dhamma at all but thought that they could realize the arising and falling away of realities.
Bhikkhu: It seems as if the person who wants to develop or practice satipatthana would have to study the abhidhamma, to know that there are 89 citta 52 cetasika and 28 rupa, divided into so many sobhana and akusala. If so the person who had never studied the abhidhamma, or even graduated from grade school, would never have the prerequisite to develop the right satipatthana, is that correct?
Sujin: Sir, there have been people who wonder whether Visakha-Migala-Mata, Anatha-pindhika or the doctor Jivaka-komarabhata, who are sotapana and have realized the ariya-sacca-dhamma, knew about the 89 kinds of citta.
One must understand that they did not know the names, but panna is able to know the characteristics of realities as each reality truly is.
Everyone seems to know that citta exists. But none can tell where citta is without studying the dhamma. When one has studied, one would see the reality of anatta more clearly, and understand what one has heard. Though one has not heard much there could be the ability to understand a lot. Therefore there are those who has heard little, but understand a lot. And since there is much understanding of what little they hear, when more is heard, the understanding would also increase. Therefore there must be more right understanding that listening is paccaya for considering what is heard. When there is correct consideration, there would be understanding. That is the panna that comprehends, not us. Understanding arises the instant we listen and understand, and then it falls away. Then at other instants, whether panna would arise or not, or of what level the panna would be since there are several levels, would depend on hetu paccaya (causes and conditions). This does not mean that Buddhism is uniquely for those who learn in detail about the 89 citta, 52 cetasika, and 28 rupa. But when one listens to teachings about realities, even without knowledge of all the 89 citta but one could understand the reality of citta as a kind of nama-dhatu, real, a reality that knows or experiences, not a rupa-dhamma. The citta is predominant, principle in knowing what is appearing now: seeing through the eye is a characteristic of a dhatu, which only sees and cannot do anything else. If it arises again, sees again, it would be this same dhatu. The dhatu that sees would see, the dhatu that hears would hear. The dhatu that thinks would not see or hear but think. Therefore in the Tipitaka, other than the word dhamma, the word dhatu is also used for everything: for example, loka-dhatu, dosa-dhatu, moha-dhatu. The word dhatu and dhamma can both be used for everything.
When one has heard and understood this, and continue to listen, one would be able to comprehend the meaning, or realities that are citta of different kinds. Because there need not use any numbers to speak of lobha but know that lobha is the reality that is attached. Sometimes there is wrong view arising with it, sometimes not. Wrong view must arise with the citta that arises with lobha for it to be attached to the wrong view.
This is to understand the dhamma, , continually, gradually, which will enable us to realize the truth about realities without it being a matter of names.
Bhikkhu: I have heard a story about a farmer who is plowing the fields and was mindful of realities appearing without ever having heard about it anywhere before and attained panna-nana that is conscious of the realities concerned. Would that be wrong view?
Sujin: Is the person in question the Sammasambuddha the Arahanta?
Bhikkhu: He is not.
Sujin: He is not yet he is able to know realities without having to listen?
Bhikkhu: He is a farmer plowing.
Sujin: It is not at all possible, even the venerable Sariputa was a savaka or listener to the dhamma.
Bhikkhu: So these stories are wrong. Only the Buddha would have the panna-nana to omnisciently know every instant of citta.
Sujin: Other than the Sammasambuddha the Arahanta there would be the Paccekabuddha who would become spontaneously enlightened. But not in this era, which is still with the sasana still standing, this is not the age of the Paccekabuddha. There is still opportunity for the savaka to study, so the student has the privilege to think, examine, consider and not to believe immediately they hear the teachings.
Bhikkhu: Please explain the phrase that one should not be attached or cling to things (…)
So far we have explained the Mahasatipatthana Sutta in terms of vipassana. Is it possible to do so in terms of samatha? If so, please do.
Sujin: To say that one should not be attached or cling to things sounds good, but how to do so? Without panna, one is certain to be attached. One might say that one should not be attached, but without panna would be. This is why the Buddha manifested the dhamma so that the listener might have panna, or the right view, arising, and panna would then attenuate attachments. But if panna has not yet arisen since one has not listened to nor studied the dhamma, nor understood realities, there would continue to be clinging.
As to the question whether there is samatha in satipatthana, people usually use this word without really understanding what samatha really means. Some people think that samatha is when one practices samadhi. 'Samatha' literally means peace. If one only mentions this much, everyone would think that being alone is also peaceful. Or that not to be agitated or involved in things is to be peaceful, actually it is not so.
'Peacefulness' (or calm, tranquility) must be exempt from akusala. When we hear any word, therefore, we must penetrate the true meaning of the reality. Otherwise it would be superficial understanding which one takes for comprehension.
Satipatthana must include both samatha and vipassana since samatha means peaceful from kilesa or akusala. Satipatthana can never be without peace. Satipatthana is calm, and from the perspective of the eightfold magga, samma-ditthi and samma-sankappa are the principle elements of panna, while other magga are the principle elements of samatha, since that moment is peaceful from akusala, not a matter of miccha-samadhi practice. This is a matter of understanding correctly from the beginning that samadhi really exists. It is nama-dhamma and not rupa-dhamma. One must distinguish this from the start. In other words, dhamma really exists, therefore when we hear the term samadhi, samadhi must have characteristics that truly exist. Samadhi is also a dhamma; as such, is it nama-dhamma or rupa-dhamma? This last two must be clearly understood. Since it cannot be rupa because it is the reality that is established and steadfast, then there must be the knowledge of where and in what way it is steadfast, in order to know the reality of samadhi.
When the citta arises it can never lack samadhi or the ekaggata-cetasika. When one studies the dhamma, in particular the paramatthadhamma, whether one hears about the ayatana, the paticcasamuppada or any dhamma whatever, one must know which of the three paramatthadhamma that arise from paccaya it is; exempting nibbana, the paramatthadhamma which is neither citta, cetasika nor rupa. This very instant, one must know, exists because it arises. None knows that because the reality arises, hence it appears. But it should be known that even sound must arise for there to be sound appearing. Had sound not arisen there would be no sound appearing. Therefore whenever anything, even hardness, appears, the reality of hardness must arise for hardness to appear.
This is why one must realize that whenever one hears a word, one must know what paramatthadhamma it is. When one hears the word samadhi, it is the cetasika, not a citta, since to say there are 52 kinds of cetasika means each one must have its specific characteristics to differentiate the 52 types. For example what is sanna? It is the reality that remembers, now. All instants of citta could remember anything. It remembers what is appearing and is able to understand what the things are. For the sanna cetasika remembers, not the citta. The citta is not attached, nor averse. The citta is the dhatu or element that knows or experiences, which is able to clearly experience the characteristics of what appears, for which we use the word 'aramana' as said earlier.
Therefore sometimes nama-dhamma is referred to as the 53 nama-dhamma, or the 52 cetasika and the citta. The citta has only one characteristic, being the reality that experiences what appears to be known. As to the cetasika, sanna-cetasika, for example, would remember. Sanna has no other duty than to remember what the citta and the sanna are experiencing. Cetana cetasika would be the reality that intends, which is still not the citta. Other than the citta which is the reality that is the principle reality in clearly experiencing what appears, all other nama are cetasika. In daily life whether we say diligent or lazy, these are characteristics of nama-dhamma which are cetasika.
Therefore samadhi is also a paramatthadhamma, a cetasika and not a citta. The cetasika that is established, steadfast, is the ekaggata-cetasika, the reality that is steadfast in the aramana, which arises with every citta. Therefore do not be preoccupied with practicing samadhi, because there is no one to do it. If the ekaggata-cetasika does not arise and is not so steadfast in the unique aramana, and long enough, that the characteristics of samadhi appears, they would not. This is because the characteristic of the ekaggata-cetasika is to be steadfast, established in the aramana. Therefore one instant of citta arises to know one aramana, the ekaggata-cetasika would be steadfast in the aramana that the citta is experiencing, and the sanna-cetasika would remember the aramana in which the ekaggata cetasika is established and the citta is experiencing.
Thus one must know that the word samadhi (meditation) in ordinary language means the instant one is keeping still or concentrated on doing something (…) but the characteristic of samadhi is to arise with all citta, and there are many kinds of citta. If the ekaggata-cetasika arose with an akusala-citta, established in an aramana that is akusala, attached to and desired to do something, then the characteristics of that ekaggata-cetasika would appear as akusala. To sit still because one thinks that is peaceful is not peacefulness. The characteristics of peacefulness is that of other cetasika that are neither ekaggata-cetasika nor samadhi, but kaya-passaddhi and citta-passaddhi, 2 of the 52 kinds of cetasika.
Therefore one must know what is there since there is no self, no us. There is be dhamma, which would be either rupa-dhamma or nama-dhamma, citta or cetasika. One would know then that to think that samadhi is peaceful is wrong, because samadhi is the reality that is steadfast in the aramana, the citta is peaceful when it is kusala-citta which is the good citta because at that moment it is calm exempt from akusala. If it were miccha samadhi it would not be peaceful, but attached and desirous of having the citta focussed on a certain aramana. At that instant there is lobha. Therefore the miccha-magga, miccha-samadhi, is a lobha-mula-citta, the reality that is attached, desirous to have the citta focussed somewhere, without knowing or understanding that at that instant there is no self, no us.
Therefore to tell someone not to be attached, without panna, is something impossible to obey. But whenever there is kusala-citta arising there must be ekaggata-cetasika since it arises with all citta. But ekaggata-cetasika remains the reality that is established in the aramana and can never become another cetasika. Whenever a kusala citta arises there must always be the 19 sobhana-satarana-cetasika arising concurrently. Therefore do not misunderstand that the moment the citta is focussed on some aramana without thinking of anything, there would be peace. For Buddhism, peacefulness or calm or tranquility is the sobhana-citta that arises with sobhana-citta which are nice citta.
This is the reason why satipatthana, which is the development of the eightfold magga, comprises both samatha and vipassana. Therefore in the Visuddhimagga, which, as the name indicates, is the path of purity exempt from kilesa, the word samadhi would be the development of kusala, and not the miccha-samadhi. When we study that dhamma we must know what the subject matter is, what the topic is. If we talk about akusala matters, one may use the term ditthi-cetasika instead of miccha- because they are akusala, which must always be wrong. Ditthi-cetasika is an akusala-cetasika. But if it were kusala and called samadhi, it would intend samma-samadhi uniquely, never miccha-samadhi.
So the citta that is kusala is peaceful without akusala. When the kusala increases and develops, continually, frequently, the character of tranquility would be firmly established, until the character of samadhi which is composed of peace would appear according their respective levels. But if one does not know whether this instant of citta is peaceful or not, there is no way to develop samatha-bhavana in the least. Both samatha- and vipassana-bhavana are nana-sampayutta, meaning the citta of the instant must be accompanied by panna-cetasika. If at the instants there is no panna-cetasika, then they are all miccha, since without panna there can be no right view. Thus this is an intricate matter which must be correctly understood. When a person speaks of samadhi, how does he understands samadhi? How does the one who uses the word samatha or peaceful understand it, or is it not at all, thus taking samadhi as calmness? Such is the beneficence of the dhamma, once studied and understood, would transcend wrong view, from miscomprehension. Without the study onw would not know, so one would think it up oneself, which is not right understanding.
Bhikkhu: You inspire faith by rendering Wangtaku bright with realities. Here is a question asking why concentration on vedana can make one attain enlightenment.
Sujin: Pardon me, sir, that sounds as if one can attain without panna. In reality mahasatipatthana is bhavana, the development of panna, from not knowing the dharacteristics of nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma (even though at this instant there are nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma), up to this moment which is only that of listening to the science of nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma. Therefore another level of study is the adhi-sila-sikkha, adhi-citta-sikkha, and adhi-panna-sikkha which must be begun and developed unto the level of magga-citta, which is able to eradicate kilesa completely. But without the panna of the beginning levels, the higher levels of panna to be developed to the fullest cannot exist.
It is not that anyone, having read the vedananupassana-satipatthana could try to know vedana with the self. But the study of the dhamma must be interrelated and in agreement from the first word to the last. Dhamma is the dhamma, no matter whether you call it anything. For example, one can use any language to name hardness, or one might not call it anything and still be able to experience it through the body sense, because it really exists. Therefore if one really understands that all are dhamma, one would not try to see vedana, since as much as you watch, it would still be the self who does. Whatever vedana we see would still be we who see. If at the moment there were happiness, it would still be us who are happy. One would not be able to know that the characteristics of sati is not us, not the self, nor the desire to watch. But one must know whether there is sati arising at this instant or not. This is the first level of the development of satipatthana or vipassana-bhavana.
If it were the development of samatha-bhavana which is kusala of the samatha level, there must be panna of the stage to be able to know the characteristics that differentiate the kusala citta and the akusala citta, then gradually to keep the nivarana-dhamma or all akusala citta away. At that instant panna is able to differentiate between the kusala-citta and the akusala, as well as know how the kusala-citta arises. There is no one who does not think, everyone does. But is the thinking kusala or akusala, accompanied by panna or not? Therefore when the citta is akusala, then it is not the development of bhavana. Since one wants to concentrate, the desire increases the lobha-mula-citta. There is no attenuation. The panna of samatha bhavana and vipassana are of different levels. But they must be panna: the panna of the samatha is able to differentiate between the kusala- and the akusala-citta and to know what to think about for the citta to gradually be calm and peaceful from akusala, to become the kusala that grows more and more tranquil unto different levels of peacefulness of samatha. But there must be knowledge of the different characteristics of kusala- and akusala-citta.
When one is concentrated on and desiring something, there is no panna. It is even lobha. Therefore no lobha is abandoned, nor is kusala developed, since one mistakes that instant for kusala. This is why one must realize that there is panna of another level, that the panna of the samatha level is only able to develop kusala for it to be steadfast, while unable to abandon the self or being us. Other than satipatthana which is the development of vipassana-bhavana, there is no way to make us abandon the attachment to realities as the self.
So even the words, abandon it, 'do not be attached' is only to be heard, it cannot be done since the way to develop panna is not shown. For even the diverse levels of peacefulness of the citta of the samadhi in samatha-bhavana cannot abandon the self.
Bhikkhu: There are only a few minutes left before the bhikkhu have to gather alms, please summarize towards future studies of realities.
Sujin: To summarize, the Buddhist order must study the dhamma manifested by the Buddha carefully, otherwise there would be misunderstandings, which would lead to the decline and disappearance of the dhamma, because of the miscomprehension. None could destroy Buddhism except for the Buddhist orders. When the Buddhist orders have wrong view, it will be transmitted on and on. The only way to maintain Buddhism is to study minutely and conscientiously, since Buddhism is the teachings of the Sammasambuddha the Arahanta. One must also be true to the dhamma, what is right is right, what is wrong is wrong. One must also dare to cast away what is wrong in order to develop what is right so that it might grow stronger, more steadfast.
Bhikkhu: I am overjoyed at the dhamma-dana you have given, thank you in the name of the vipassanachara-sankha, and blessings (…).
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