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A Handbook for Vipassana-kammatthana

The Mode Of Action To Stand Above Kilesa And Kamma

Q: How many kinds of kilesa (defilements) are there?

The kilesa that arise in the mind, how can they come about?

A: Kilesa are divided into three kinds, namely:

  1. Coarse kilesa; they manifest by way of body and speech, for example: to cut off the life of living beings; to seize things that belong to other people by robbing, stealing, pilfering, or snatching; sexual misconduct; lying, slandering, insulting, and tittle tattling; to take intoxicants and drugs which are the origin of carelessness. (Abstention from these acts is sila and a basic requirement for the successful practice of meditation.)
  2. Medium kilesa; that is to say the nivarana, kilesa that appear in the mind. They season the mind so that it gives rise to desire; dissatisfaction, anger, dejection, drowsiness, agitation, worry, annoyance, indecision, doubt, and delusion. The medium kilesa have authority when they have arisen, they make the mind hot, stuffy, clumsy, troubled, worried, annoyed, apprehensive, uncertain and skeptical more and more.
  3. Subtle kilesa; they are called anusaya kilesa. They are the nature that lies dormant in the 5 rupa nama kkhandha. When there is a sufficient cause they are bound to arise. Usually these anusaya kilesa remain quiet, they are not at all evident and do not issue forth in any way. But when there are any objects, whether good or bad, that come into contact with the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind then their state changes to the medium and coarse kilesa and they break forth through body and speech later._

As an analogy, to distinguish between these three kinds of coarse, medium, and subtle kilesa, one may compare them with a match. The subtle kilesa resemble the fire that is hidden in the head of the match. The medium kilesa are like taking match and striking the side of the matchbox. The fire then becomes evident. The coarse kilesa compare to using the fire that has sprung up and setting it to some material. The fire will then burn that object and can spread into a big blaze later.

Q: What is the relationship between kilesa vatta, kamma vatta, and vipaka vatta (the rounds of defilement, action, and result of action)?

A: We people who are born have life existences different from each other. We are good people, bad people, foolish or wise people, we are unhappy, happy, rich or poor, beautiful and ugly. This is the result of kamma and is called vipaka vatta. It arises from having done Good or Bad in the past and in this present life. Action coming out by way of the body is called kaya kamma; action by way of speech is called vaci kamma.

Kāya kamma and vaci kamma are the activity of the coarse defilements (vitikkama kilesa). Killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies, and taking liquor and intoxicants are examples of this. Kaya kamma and vaci kamma originate from mano kamma (mental action).

Mano kamma is the activity of the medium kilesa (pariyutthana kilesas). If we cannot control the mano kamma, which is kilesa arising in the mind, then it will burst out by way of body and speech, which is kaya kamma and vaci kamma again. As regards mano kamma, it originates from anusaya kilesa, that is from the subtle defilements which lie dormant in the stream of consciousness belonging to each one of us.

Kilesa are the cause for the arising of kamma; kamma is the cause for the arising of vipaka. This means: The activity of kamma vipaka is nothing but the 5 rupa nama kkhandha or ourselves, we are the people or rather the minds of people which are the resting places of kilesa.

Kilesa is the cause of kamma; kamma builds up people again. They keep whirling round like this having no destination.

Q: What will be the way of action for practising to surmount the three vatta?

A: The Fully Enlightened Buddha had the vision to see that, birth, old age, sickness and death are dukkha (suffering). He searched for and investigated the cause of it; and he discovered that, birth, old age, sickness and death of us people or the world of living beings every where originates from kamma. When he had investigated the cause of kamma he discovered:

This kamma originates from kilesa tanha alone (defiled craving). Thus all kinds of dukkha which arise originate from kilesa tanha! The Lord Buddha pointed out the 4 ariya sacca (Noble Facts), the law of truth that samudaya (tanha) is the cause for the arising of dukkha. All dukkha arises owing to a root. To extinguish all this dukkha one must extinguish the root!

Simply speaking: We people have happened because of tanha, we are born from tanha. If we wish to extinguish birth, we must extinguish that very tanha (craving). What shall we use to arrive at the extinction of tanha?

The Supreme Teacher preached that: "The action of extinguishing craving (tanha) is to follow the Eightfold Path" or majjhima patipada, the Middle Way. The activity that is exactly the Middle Way is the perfection of the absolute cessation of tanha. Therefore, those who wish to transcend the three vatta must develop the Eightfold Path or refine their efforts until nothing remains except THE PRACTICE OF THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS.

Q: How should one refine ones efforts in order to square the Eightfold Path with the four satipatthana?

A: Practically the Eightfold Path works as follows:

  1. Samma ditthi: Right view; that means, the vision of the arising and vanishing of the 5 rupa nama kkhandha, or the realization of the four Noble Truths. This is a part of panna.
  2. Samma sankappa: Right thinking; that means, the application or the lifting up of the mind to know the present object or the five groups of existence (kkhandha). This is a part of panna.
  3. Samma vaca: Right speech; that means, the mind that correctly identifies the concepts connected with the presently existing phenomena which are real. This is a part of sila.
  4. Samma kammanta: Right action; that means, the mental activity that is perfectly right; that is to say, watching the sankhara dhamma (conditioned events) arise in present time (vipassana dhura). This is a Part of sila.
  5. Samma ajiva: Right living or right occupation, having dhamma, which is absolutely right; that means, the Eightfold Path the wealth of the Noble Ones, things that are the support of the mind, to have dhamma for the nutriment of the mind. This is a part of sila.
  6. Samma vayama: Right effort; that means, effort to guard, effort to abandon, effort to develop, effort to maintain. This is a part of samadhi.
  7. Samma sati: Right contemplation; that means, to contemplate the dhamma which is the 5 rupa nama kkhandha right in the present; to fulfill the function of the one who is aroused to know. This is a part of samadhi.
  8. Samma samadhi: Right concentration; that means, to fulfill the function of making the mind tranquil, steady, and fixed to a single object. This is a part of samadhi.
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