There are ten fetters that keep one in greed and lust, anger and hate, bewilderment and delusion, the first three of these fetters namely, soul or personality view; scepticism and attachment to mere rules and rituals, must be uprooted to reach the first fruition, the primary stage of the holiness. Those who have not attained the first Fruition, i.e., the men of the world, will always find it difficult to arrive at any truth because they are subject to the perversions of perception (sanna vipalassa), of consciousness (cittavipallassa) and belief (ditthivipallassa)
To illustrate the perversion of perception, the following examples may be mentioned:
1. In order to save his cultivation from the visits of the paddy eating deer from the adjoining forest, the cultivator constructs a scarecrow in the figure of a man out of grass and dresses it up with the clothes of a man and makes it exactly look like a man and besides arms it with a bow and arrow. This he places in the middle of the cultivation with the object of frightening the deer. When the latter come to the cultivation to eat the paddy plants, they see the scarecrow and mistaking it to be a real man, they are frightened and take to flight. Here the deer have the perception of a man whom they had seen before; they take the grass figure in mans clothes as the real man. This is due to the perversion of perception.
2. An ignorant peasant is not aware that the picture in a biscope (movie Film) are a rapid succession of separate pictures, To him the pictures appear real living beings. The appearance of a rapid succession of pictures makes him perceive that the beings are moving. This also illustrates the perversion of perception.
To illustrate the perversion of consciousness, the mental reaction of a simple man who sees a magic show, may be mentioned. An expert magician by his dexterity makes a skeleton dance to the tune of music and the simple audience think that the skeleton dances by itself. Sometimes a magician appears to cut a man into two parts causing bloodshed and so forth and the simple audience think that he really has cut a man into two. A simple man is easily confused between what really takes place and what he thinks of it. This is due to the perversion of consciousness. Another can be that of a traveller in darkness who mistakes an elephant for a bush or vice versa. Inflict those who have not attained the first Fruition are subject to the perversion of perception, consciousness and belief. It may be noted here that the perversion of consciousness is deeper than the perversion of perception but the former is not so firm as the latter
The case of the pervasion of belief requires no illustration. It is a belief in the existence of a thing which does not exit or vice versa. It is quite common.
In searching for truth, the perversions of perception, consciousness and belief should never be lost sight of. In fact, these three perversions are great deceptions.
In Buddhism Truth has two aspects, namely, Conventional Truth (Sammutisacca) and Ultimate Truth (Paramatthasacca) . For one who has not attained the first Fruition, what is seen with his physical eye may be different from what is seen with the eye of wisdom and what is heard with his physical ear may be different from what is heard with the ear of wisdom and so on with the rest of three senses.
In His first sermon, i.e., the sermon on the Middle Path, The Buddha addressed the five monks: "These two extremes, monks, are not to be practised by one who has gone forth from the world. What are the two? That conjoined with passions and luxury, low, vulgar, common, ignoble and useless and that conjoined with self torture, painful, ignoble and useless"
The self mentioned here may be mistaken as the equivalent of soul or enduring personality. It means the material and immaterial factors of a person which are termed in Pali Namarupam. Five days after He had delivered the first sermon, The Buddha addressed the same five monks: "Material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities, monks, are devoid of soul or an enduring personality (atta). Were there any atta (soul or enduring personality ) in them, that would save the mind from worry as the atta would have command over the material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities".
The Buddha further elaborated that there was no soul or permanent personality in perception, feeling, volition and consciousness. These four factors and material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities constitute a man, women and lower animals. From the point of view of Conventional Truth there is , indeed, such a thing as man or woman but from the point of view of Ultimate Truth there is no man or woman but the five material and immaterial qualities
The Ultimate Truth is that in the world there are only three things, namely (1) consciousness (citta) (2) mental properties or coefficients (cetasika) and (3) material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities (rupa).
Mental properties constitute nama, which has been translated as name or mind and the material qualities and qualities conditioned by the material qualities constitute rupam, which has been translated as form or matter.
Man or woman is composed of what in Pali is called, name which is translated as name and form or mind and body or mind and matter. These translations express the meaning of namarupam from the view point of the Conventional Truth only but are wide of the mark from the point of view of the Ultimate Truth. The Conventional Truth is termed in Pali, Sammutisacca and the Ultimate Truth, Paramatthasacca. Thus it is obvious that The Buddha did not repudiate the existence of personality from the point of view of the Conventional Truth (Sammutisacca) when He mentioned self in His fist sermon but He did repudiate it from the point of view of Ultimate Truth (Paramatthasaaca) in His second sermon in which He said repeatedly that there is no atta in the constituents of a man or woman. It is significant that the second sermon was addressed to the same monks four of whom had already attained Fruition. Atta mentioned by The Buddha is namarupam (immaterial and material qualities.)
In one of the Canonical Texts, called The Way of Virtue, (Dhammapada). which has been translated by Western and Eastern Scholars into English the following passages are to be found: -
All conditioned phenomena (samkhara) always change. He who realises this by insight becomes wearied with misery. This is the way to purity.
"All conditioned phenomena (Samkhara) are miserable. He who realises this by insight becomes wearied with the misery. This is the way to purity.
All things including Nibbana (dhamma) are devoid of atta. He who realises this by insight becomes wearied with misery. This is the way to purity".
It will be noticed here that in the first and second verses the Buddha used the word samkhara i.e., conditioned things but in the third verse He used the word dhamma i.e., all things conditioned as welt as unconditioned. This is just to show that Nibbana (the transcendental goal of the Buddhist) as well as every thing in the world are devoid of atta.
Dhamma is a generic term. It means sankhara and Nibbana though sankhara is the opposite of Nibbana.
Those who have not attained Fruition realise the Conventional Truth only and it is through the Conventional Truth that one can gain the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth by learning the Doctrine (Dhamma) and by the practice of Virtue, Concentration and Meditation. But it must be noted that the knowledge that is acquired under pressure of greed and lust (lobha) anger, hate (dosa) and bewilderment and delusion (moha) will not, as a rule, enable one to get out of Conventional Truth. It is the knowledge that is acquired by learning the Doctrine (Dhamma) and by the practice of Virtue, Concentration and Meditation that will lead one to the Ultimate Truth. The less one has greed and lust, anger and hate and bewilderment and delusion, the nearer he is to the Ultimate Truth.
Since in the sphere of Ultimate Truth there is no soul or enduring personality, (atta) the question may arise "Who or what transmigrates?" The answer is "Nothing transmigrates" A living being performed and performs moral and immoral deeds and Words; depending on these moral and immoral deeds and words, consciousness (gatinimitta) arises and this consciousness (nama) joins with material factors and factors conditioned by material factors (rupam) and consequently he or it becomes a living being.