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Chapter 23 - The World

Cittas can be classified as mundane, lokiya, and supra-mundane, lokuttara. First of all we should understand the meaning of the world, loka, according to the discipline of the Aryan, as the Buddha explained in the "Kindred Sayings"( IV, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Second Fifty, Ch IV, § 84, Transitory). We read:

"Then the venerable Ānanda came to see the Exalted One... Seated at one side the venerable Ānanda said to the Exalted One:"

" ‘The world! The world!’ is the saying, lord. Pray, how far, lord, does this saying go?"

"What is transitory by nature, Ānanda, is called ‘the world’ in the Aryan discipline. And what, Ānanda, is transitory by nature? The eye, Ānanda, is transitory by nature, visible object is transitory by nature, seeing-consciousness is transitory by nature, eye-contact is transitory by nature, pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling or indifferent feeling arising owing to eye-contact, that also is transitory by nature."

(The same is said with regard to the other doorways.)

"What is thus transitory, Ānanda, is called ‘the world’ in the Aryan discipline."

For the Aryan, the person who has attained enlightenment, the transitoriness of realities is natural, but this is not so for the person who does not realize yet the arising and falling away of realities. Someone cannot become an Aryan if he does not see the arising and falling away of the realities which appear. The Buddha said to Ānanda that whatever is transitory by nature is the world in the Aryan discipline. The world is everything which arises and falls away. The Dhamma which does not arise and fall away is not the world; it is distinct from the world, supra-mundane, lokuttara. This is nibbāna.

We can classify cittas as lokiya and lokuttara. The citta which does not clearly realize the characteristic of nibbāna, thus, which does not have nibbāna as object, is mundane, lokiya citta. The citta which has nibbāna as object and eradicates defilements is the path-consciousness or magga-citta, and the citta which has nibbāna as object after defilements have been eradicated is the fruition-consciousness or phala-citta, immediately succeeding the magga-citta; both types of citta are supra-mundane, lokuttara cittas.

One should develop lokiya paññā which realizes the characteristics of nama and rupa in order to become an Aryan. Lokiya paññā is not technical knowledge or such knowledge as one needs to have in science. Lokiya paññā in Buddhism is no other knowledge but the understanding of the characteristics of nama and rupa.

Lokiya paññā knows the characteristics of the "world", namely, the realities which appear through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body-sense and the mind-door. It knows the realities other than nibbāna.

There are four magga-cittas and these are the lokuttara kusala cittas of the four stages of enlightenment, which have nibbāna as object while they eradicate defilements in accordance with these stages. There are four phala-cittas and these are the lokuttara vipākacittas which have nibbāna as object when the defilements have been eradicated in accordance with the stages of enlightenment. All other types of citta are lokiya cittas.

There are four pairs of lokuttara cittas, namely the lokuttara kusala citta and the lokuttara vipākacitta of the sotāpanna, the stream winner, of the Sakadagami, the once-returner, of the Anagami, the non-returner and of the arahat:

  • sotāpatti magga-citta sotāpatti phala-citta
  • sakadāgāmī magga-citta sakadāgāmī phala-citta
  • anāgāmī magga-citta anāgāmī phala-citta
  • arahatta magga-citta arahatta phala-citta

When the magga-citta of the sotāpanna arises it performs the function of eradicating defilements while it has nibbāna as object, and then it falls away. It is succeeded immediately by the phala-citta of the sotāpanna. This citta also has nibbāna as object and when it arises the defilements have already been eradicated by the magga-citta of that stage. The sotapatti magga-citta is lokuttara kusala citta, and it conditions the lokuttara vipākacitta to succeed it immediately, without any interval. The expression "without delay", "akaliko", is used in the Tipitaka, referring to the fact that the lokuttara magga-citta produces its result immediately [1] . One does not have to wait for the arising of result until the next life. In the case of other kusala kamma or akusala kamma, the result does not succeed the kamma immediately. The person who develops samatha until the jhānacitta arises will not receive its result so long as he is in the human plane. The reason is that jhāna vipākacitta performs the functions of rebirth, bhavanga and dying in a Brahma plane [2] . If one’s skill in jhāna does not decline and jhānacitta arises shortly before the dying-consciousness, it will, after the dying-consciousness has fallen away, produce vipākacitta.

This vipākacitta performs the function of rebirth in one of the Brahma-planes. For example, the kusala jhānacitta of the first stage of rupa-jhāna conditions the jhānacitta which is vipāka to perform the function of rebirth in the Brahma plane of the first stage of rupa-jhāna. It is the same in the case of the higher stages of rupa-jhāna, they produce rebirth-consciousness accordingly in the higher rupa-Brahma planes. The kusala arupa-jhānacitta of the first stage, the arupa-jhāna of "infinite space", conditions the arupa-jhāna vipākacitta to perform the function of rebirth in the arupa-brahma plane of infinite space. It is the same in the case of the higher stages of arupa-jhāna kusala citta, they produce their results accordingly in the higher arupa-brahma planes. Thus, in the case of jhānacitta, kamma does not produce result in the same life. In the case of kāmāvacara kusala kamma (of the sense sphere), its result may arise in the same life, but not immediately; numerous cittas arise and fall away in between the time kamma is performed and its result is produced. Or the result may arise in a future life, or even after many lives. Only in the case of lokuttara kusala citta it is different. As soon as lokuttara magga-citta has fallen away it is succeeded immediately by its result. The lokuttara vipākacitta does not perform the function of rebirth, bhavanga and dying, nor any of the functions other vipākacittas perform.

The "Atthasālinī"(I, Book I, Part II, Ch II, the Couplets, 47, 48) states about lokiya and lokuttara:

"In the expression "worldly phenomena", the cycle of rebirth is called "the world" (loka), because of its dissolving and crumbling (lujjana). States which are joined to the world by being included therein are termed "worldly". To have passed beyond the worldly is to be supra-mundane, literally "ulterior" (uttara Dhamma). Dhammas which have passed the worldly, being not included therein, are termed lokuttara Dhamma."

Citta, cetasika and rupa are saṅkhāra Dhammas, realities which arise and fall away. Also lokuttara citta and cetasikas which have nibbāna as object arise and fall away. However, cittas are classified as mundane, lokiya, and supra-mundane, lokuttara, because lokiya cittas do not have nibbāna as object, whereas lokuttara cittas have nibbāna as object. Magga-citta has nibbāna as object and it eradicates defilements, and phala-citta has nibbāna as object after the defilements have been eradicated according to the stages of enlightenment.

We read in the "Kindred Sayings" (IV, Kindred sayings on Sense, Second Fifty, Ch IV, § 85, Void):

"Then the venerable Ānanda came to see the Exalted One... Seated at one side the venerable Ānanda said to the Exalted One: " ‘Void is the world! Void is the world!’ is the saying, lord. Pray, lord, how far does this saying go?"

"Because the world is void of the self, Ānanda, or of what belongs to the self, therefore is it said ‘Void is the world.’ And what, Ānanda, is void of the self or of what belongs to the self?

The eye is void of the self or of what belongs to the self. Visible object is void of the self or of what belongs to the self. Seeing-consciousness is void of the self or of what belongs to the self. Eye-contact is void of the self or of what belongs to the self. Pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling or indifferent feeling which arises owing to eye-contact is void of the self or of what belongs to the self."

(The same is said with regard to the other doorways.)

"That is why, Ānanda, it is said ‘Void is the world.’ "

Void-ness cannot be realized so long as there is ignorance of realities. One should know what void-ness is and of what there is void-ness. One should know as it really is the meaning of void-ness of the self and of what belongs to the self. The Dhammas which can be experienced through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body-sense and the mind-door arise and then fall away, they are void of the self and of what belongs to the self.

Some people believe that they experience at times that there is not really anything which belongs to a self. They wonder why they did not have such an experience before. Formerly they used to believe that there was a self and things belonging to a self. However, because they often listened to the Dhamma they came to the conclusion that there is not anything which belongs to a self and that they should not cling to such a wrong view anymore. This is only thinking about the truth. Theoretical understanding is not enough, because it cannot eradicate defilements. If a person does not realize that he has merely theoretical understanding he may mistakenly believe that he has already a great deal of paññā and that he will soon attain enlightenment. People may think in such a way because they have found out something they did not know before and they take this knowledge for something extraordinary.

One should know that defilements cannot be eradicated through thinking about the truth. Defilements cannot be eradicated if one does not know yet the characteristic of nama, the element which experiences something. It is nama which is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, experiencing tangible object or thinking, it is not a self who has these experiences. When someone has not developed paññā through awareness of the characteristics of the realities which are appearing, he does not penetrate the true nature of nama and rupa, and he cannot realize their arising and falling away. Nama and rupa which are arising and falling away are actually the world which arises and falls away at this moment.

People may reflect on the characteristics of nama and rupa and they may have understanding of them, but they should not erroneously believe that paññā has already been developed to the degree of eradicating defilements. If sati does not arise, if there is no awareness and investigation of the characteristics of realities which are appearing one at a time, the difference between nama and rupa cannot be realized. The difference between the characteristic of nama and the characteristic of rupa should be realized through the mind-door as they appear one at a time, so that they are clearly known as they are. This is realized at the first stage of insight [3] , but so long as this stage has not been reached, paññā cannot develop further to the degree of knowing that all conditioned Dhammas are merely the world which is void, void of what one takes for self, for a being or for a person.

We read in the "Cūla Niddesa", in "Mogharāja’s Questions" (Khuddhaka Nikāya [4] ) that the Buddha spoke to the monks about detachment. He said:

"Just as if, monks, a man should gather, burn or do what he please with all the grass, all the sticks, branches and stalks in this Jeta Grove, would you say ‘this man is gathering, burning us, doing what he please with us ‘?"

"Surely not, lord."

"Why so?"

"Because, lord, this is not our self, nor belonging to ourselves."

"Even so, monks, what does not belong to you, detach from it. If you detach from it, it will be for your profit and welfare. The body is not yours, detach from it. If you detach from it, it will be for your profit and welfare. Feeling... remembrance...formations (saṅkhārakkhandha)... consciousness, detach from them. If you detach from them it will be for your profit and welfare. One should consider the world as void in this way...."

Further on we read that when someone sees with understanding the world as merely grass and sticks, he does not wish for rebirth in other existences, he has only inclination for nibbāna which is the end of rebirth. Thus one should consider the world as void.

One is used to taking rupas and feelings for self. When saññā remembers what is experienced in the wrong way, one perceives a self and clings to names which are used in the world. One is used to taking all conditioned realities for self, no matter whether it is kusala Dhamma or akusala Dhamma. If one is not convinced of the truth that they are like grass, sticks, branches and leaves, one cannot become detached from the realities which are the five khandhas.

If people do not study and consider the Dhamma the Buddha taught and if they do not develop satipaṭṭhāna, they do not really know the world, even if they have been in this world for an endlessly long time. If one does not know the world as it is one cannot be liberated from it. Someone may think that life in this world is pleasant when he experiences a great deal of happiness, but there cannot be happiness continuously. Happy feeling arises only for one moment and then it falls away. If people do not study realities and do not know them as they really are, they do not know what the world is and of what it consists.

We all know that there are objects appearing through the eyes and the other senses. Sound, for example, appears when there is hearing. We should remember that if there were not the element which experiences, the element which is hearing, sound could not appear. The different objects which appear through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body-sense and the mind-door, make it evident that there is citta, the reality which experiences, the element which experiences. We can know the characteristic of citta, the element which experiences and which arises and falls away, because different objects appear. Thus we can know that the world arises and falls away each moment.

So long as we do not penetrate the characteristics of realities which arise and fall away, succeeding one another very rapidly, we take what appears for a "whole", a being, person or thing. Then we do not know the world as it really is. Someone may have studied the world from the point of view of worldly knowledge, geography, history or science, but all technical knowledge and science cannot cause him to be liberated from the world, not even after innumerable periods of time. If a person does not know the world as it really is he cannot become liberated from it.

Can the world be our refuge in life? We are attached to happy feeling, but it arises and then falls away completely each time, and that feeling cannot return anymore. If someone would have to undergo excruciating suffering, he would indeed want to escape from the world, he would not take refuge in it. However, he could not escape so long as he does not know the world as it really is.

It is important to consider whether one is ready to give up the idea of being, person or self, or not yet. At this moment there is no self, but is one ready to become detached from the world? First of all, one should clearly know that there is no self, being or person, so that one can become detached from the world and be liberated from it.

Some people cannot bear the truth that there is no self who is seeing, hearing or experiencing the other sense objects. They cannot accept it that there are in the absolute sense no relatives and friends, no possessions, no things they could enjoy. Usually, people do not believe that they should be liberated from the world. In order to abandon the clinging to the view of self or mine, one should develop the paññā which knows all realities which appear as they really are. Then one will truly know the world which consists of these realities.

It is not easy to know the world as it really is. Those who have learnt the truth about the world the Buddha realized himself by his enlightenment and taught to others, should carefully consider what they have learnt and apply it in their daily life. They should continue to develop paññā so that it can become keener and know the characteristics of realities which constitute the world as they really are. We should know the world at this very moment, not at another time. We should know the world when there is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, experiencing tangible object or thinking, at this very moment. We should listen to the Dhamma and study it, so that there can be awareness, investigation and understanding of the characteristics of realities appearing through the six doors. This is the only way that paññā can develop and know the world which arises and falls away now.

We read in the "Kindred Sayings" (IV, Saḷāyatana vagga, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Second Fifty, Ch II, § 68, Samiddhi Sutta) that when the Buddha was staying near Rājagaha, in Bamboo Grove, Samiddhi came to see him and addressed him:

" ‘The world! The world!’ is the saying, lord. Pray, lord, to what extent is there the world or the concept of ‘world’?"

"Where there is eye, Samiddhi, visible object, seeing-consciousness, where there are Dhammas cognizable by the eye, there is the world and the concept of ‘world’."

(The same is said with regard to the other doorways.)

The world is known because there is the eye and through that doorway the colors of the world can be seen. Through the ear the sounds of the world can be heard. Through the nose the odors of the world are smelled. Through the tongue the flavors of the world are tasted. Through the body-sense the heat, cold, hardness, softness, motion and pressure of the world are experienced. If there were not these doorways could the world appear? If there were no seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, the experience of tangible object or thinking, the world could not appear. We cling to the idea that the world appears because we see the world. What appears through the eyes is the world of color. It is the same in the case of the other doorways. Thus, the world consists of visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible objects, and the world can appear because there are the senses and the mind-door. The eye is a condition for seeing, the ear for hearing and the other doorways for the experience of the relevant sense objects. Through the mind-door there is thinking about the objects which appear through the six doors. We do not have to look for another world. No matter in which world one lives that world appears through one of the six doorways.

Further on in the same Sutta we read that the Buddha said to Samiddhi:

"But where there is no eye, no visible object, no seeing-consciousness, no Dhammas cognizable by seeing-consciousness, there is, Samiddhi, no world, no concept of ‘world’."

(The same is said with regard to the other doorways.)

If we do not know the world as it really is it is impossible to be liberated from it, even if we wanted to. We will be for a long time in this world and in other worlds. In past lives people lived also in other worlds and even so in the future they will live in the world for an endlessly long time. They will be reborn again and again, going around in the cycle of birth and death, experiencing happiness and sorrow.

Some people believe that the Buddha still exists, although he attained parinibbāna. They want to visit him in order to offer food to him. We should consider the "Phagguna Sutta" (Kindred Sayings IV, Saḷāyatana vagga, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Second Fifty, Ch III, § 83):

Then the venerable Phagguna came to see the Exalted One... Seated at one side... he asked:

"Is there, lord, an eye, by which one could recognize and proclaim the past Buddhas, those who have passed away, who have broken down the hindrances, cut off the road (of craving), ended the round of rebirth, escaped from all dukkha?"

He then asked the same about the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body-sense and the mind. Thus, he asked whether after the Buddha’s parinibbāna there would still exist eye, ear, nose, tongue, body-sense or mind. We read that the Buddha answered that there is no such eye, ear, nose, tongue, body-sense or mind.

When the Buddha attained parinibbāna, he passed finally away. There were no longer eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body-sense and mind. He did not after his parinibbāna go to a particular place where he could personally receive people’s offerings. If he would still have senses and mind arising and falling away, he would not be liberated from the world. There would still be dukkha, he would not be free from dukkha.

The world is what appears through the six doors. If citta would not arise and see, hear, smell, taste, experience tangible object or think, the world would not appear. When sati is aware, the objects which appear can be studied and investigated, and these are the characteristics of the world appearing through the six doors. Thinking about the world is not the same as knowing the characteristics of realities as they are, realizing them as not a being, not a person, not self. If someone merely thinks about the world, he thinks actually about beings, people, self or different things, and then he knows the world by way of conventional truth (sammuti sacca), not be way of absolute truth (paramattha sacca).

Do we realize in our daily life whether we are in the world of conventional truth or in the world of absolute truth? Citta is the reality which experiences objects through the six doors. There is citta at each moment, but the world does not appear at each moment. When there is no seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, the experience of tangible object or thinking, this world does not appear. The rebirth-consciousness, the first citta in this life, does not experience an object of this world. It is vipākacitta, the result of kamma. Kamma conditions the rebirth-consciousness to succeed the dying-consciousness, the last citta of the preceding life.

The rebirth-consciousness experiences the same object as the cittas which arose shortly before the dying-consciousness of the preceding life. Since the rebirth-consciousness does not know an object of this world, this world does not appear yet at that moment. When the rebirth-consciousness has fallen away, the kamma which conditioned its arising also conditions the succeeding bhavanga-citta. The bhavanga-citta experiences the same object as the rebirth-consciousness. When bhavanga-cittas are arising and falling away in succession, performing the function of preserving the continuity in a lifespan, the objects of this world are not experienced. Bhavanga-cittas do not see, hear, smell, taste, experience tangible object or think. Thus, so long as these cittas are arising and falling away, this world does not appear.

When there are cittas arising in processes the world appears. There are six doors through which vīthi-cittas, cittas arising in processes, know the world. Five doors are rupa and one door is nama, and they are the following:

  • the cakkhuppasāda rupa, the eye-door [5]
  • the sotappassāda rupa, the ear-door
  • the ghāṇappassāda rupa, the nose-door
  • the jivhāppassāda rupa, the tongue-door
  • the kāyappassāda rupa, the body-door
  • the bhavangupaccheda-citta, the mind-door

The five senses, which are the five pasāda rupas, have each their own specific characteristic, and they can be impinged on just by the relevant rupas which each of them is able to receive. Thus, each of the pasāda rupas can be the doorway for the cittas concerned which can experience the sense object which impinges on that particular pasāda-rupa. In daily life there is not only seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or the experience of tangible object, there is also thinking about different objects. When citta receives and experiences an object after it has been experienced through the eye-door or through the other sense-doors, the citta is at such moments not dependent on the pasāda rupas which are the sense-doors. It is then dependent on the mind-door, the arrest bhavanga, bhavangupaccheda [6] , which arises before the mind-door adverting-consciousness, the manodvārāvajjana-citta.

The mind-door is the doorway for the vīthi-cittas of the mind-door process which arise after the sense-door process and which experience the sense object which has just fallen away, or for the cittas which think of different objects. If the bhavangupaccheda-citta would not arise, then the first citta which experiences an object through the mind-door, the manodvārāvajjana-citta, mind-door adverting-consciousness, could not arise either. The mind-door and the mind-door adverting-consciousness are different Dhammas. The mind-door which is the bhavangupaccheda-citta, is a vipākacitta not arising in a process, thus, it is not vīthi-citta. The manodvārāvajjana-citta is a kiriyacitta, the first vīthi-citta which arises and knows an object through the mind-door.

This is ordinary, daily life. We should understand the characteristics of the doorways, so that we can investigate and know realities as they are: they are arising and falling away, and they are not a being, a person or a self.

At this moment we may not think of the eye-sense, the cakkhuppasāda rupa, but it is a reality, a rupa which arises and falls away in the middle of the eye.

In the "Atthasālinī" (II, Book II, Ch III, Derived Rupas, 307) we read that the āyatana of the eye, cakkhāyatana, is the eye-sense, and that it is derived from the four great Elements. We read:

"Included in personality, it is comprised in and depending on just that.
Invisible: what cannot be seen by visual cognition.
Reacting: reaction, friction is here produced [7] ."

It cannot be seen, but it can be impinged on by visible object. The term cakkhāyatana is composed of cakkhu and āyatana. Cakkhu means eye. Āyatana is meeting-place or birth-place. Thus, cakkhāyatana is the eye as meeting-place and birth-place. When the eye-sense is impinged on by visible object there is a condition for seeing-consciousness to arise at the eye base and to experience visible object.

The Buddha explained that when the cittas which arise in the eye-door process and experience visible object through the eye-door have fallen away, there are many bhavanga-cittas arising and falling away. Then cittas arise which experience through the mind-door the visible object which was just before experienced by cittas through the eye-door. The cittas of the mind-door process follow extremely rapidly upon the cittas of the eye-door process, even though there are bhavanga-cittas in between the processes. We should appreciate the value of the Buddha’s teaching about the doorways in detail. His teaching can help us not to confuse the cittas which experience visible object through the eye-door and the cittas which experience the object through the mind-door, after the eye-door process is over. It is the same in the case of the other sense-doors. When the cittas which experience an object through one of the other sense-doors have fallen away, there is each time, after bhavanga-cittas have arisen and fallen away in succession, a mind-door process of cittas which know the same object through the mind-door.

Nama Dhammas, citta and the accompanying cetasikas, arise and fall away, succeeding one another extremely rapidly. Now it seems that we are seeing and hearing at the same time. However, in reality one citta arises at a time and experiences one object while it is dependent on one doorway. Then it falls away extremely rapidly. A process consists of several cittas which arise and fall away in succession. The cittas in one process are dependent on one and the same doorway. Since cittas succeed one another so rapidly one may not know the true characteristics of the cittas arising in the eye-door process, one may not realize that they only experience the reality appearing through the eyes. Cittas of the mind-door process arise afterwards, and they receive and experience the visible object which appeared just before through the eye-sense. After that there are processes of cittas which notice and remember the shape and form of what appeared and then one tends to forget that what appears through the eyes is in reality only visible object.

The eye-sense has been compared to an ocean which is so large that it can never be satiated. We can see the color of the moon, the sun and the stars. Although they are infinitely far away, their colors can contact the eye-sense and then they are experienced by the vīthi-cittas of the eye-door process. It seems that there is the universe, the world full of beings, people and things. However, in reality there is citta which thinks about the shape and form of the four great Elements of earth, water, fire and wind. They appear in different combinations, they appear as beings, people, the moon, the sun, the stars, as many different things. When we experience things through touch, only cold, heat, softness, hardness, motion or pressure appear. If we know Dhammas as they are, we realize what the world is: the Dhammas which arise and fall away very rapidly, which are transitory. All Dhammas which arise have to fall away, without exception. If one does not realize the arising and falling away of Dhammas, one only pays attention to conventional truth. The cittas of the mind-door process remember a "whole", the shape and form of what appears through the eyes, they remember the meaning of high and low sounds which appear through the ears. The names of different things are remembered, and then only concepts are known.

Questions

  1. What is the world?
  2. What is mundane paññā, lokiya paññā?
  3. Does the rebirth-consciousness know an object of this world? Explain you answer.
  4. What object does the bhavanga-citta know?
  5. Is the mind-door adverting-consciousness the same as the mind-door?
  6. Of which jāti is the mind-door?
  7. Of which jāti is the mind-door adverting-consciousness?

 

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Footnotes and references:

1.

See also Visuddhimagga VII, 80, 81.

2.

The rebirth-consciousness, the bhavanga-cittas and the dying-consciousness are, in one lifespan, the same type of vipākacitta, result of the same kamma.

3.

The stages of insight will be explained further on in this book.

4.

Not translated into English, but this text is similar to "Kindred Sayings" III, Khandhavagga, First Fifty, § 33.

5.

See for these terms Part I, Ch 4, Exposition of Paramattha Dhammas II.

6.

The last bhavanga-citta before vīthi-cittas arise and the stream of bhavanga-cittas is arrested.

7.

By impingement of visible object on the eye-sense.

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