Viriya Parami

by Sujin Boriharnwanaket | 2000 | 5,918 words

Summary: Aired on December 5, 1999,
Translated by Amara-Varee,
Revised by Robert Kirkpatrick.


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First may I congratulate you for your accumulated kusala-saddha or gracious faith, which provided you with the opportunity to hear the supreme Dhamma with which the Buddha was enlightened and which he taught. Although more than 2500 years have since passed, those who have accumulated kusala-saddha to hear the Dhamma still have the opportunity to do so. The Dhamma in which the Buddha was omnisciently enlightened and which he manifested could not be known had he not imparted the knowledge. The truth of the Dhamma is appearing at every instant, but is extremely difficult to know. The Sammasambuddha’s omniscient enlightenment understood perfectly the characteristics of realities that actually arise and fall away at every instant, and his teaching enables the listeners to gradually consider and examine until they understand the Dhamma and consequently eradicate kilesa completely. Though one might have heard other teachings, none but the Dhamma taught by Buddha, the Supremely Enlightened, can eradicate kilesa (defilements).

It is inappropriate for those who are just beginning to become interested in the Dhamma to think that it is not necessary to study to be able to comprehend it or that to understand a little Dhamma would be enough to eradicate kilesa. The Dhamma is intricate and those who study it must do so scrupulously.

To demonstrate that the Dhamma which the Buddha manifested cannot be spontaneously attained by anyone else, I would like to refer to one of his former lives when the Buddha Dipankara predicted his future Buddhahood four asankheyya (immeasurably long periods of time) and a hundred thousand kappa (aeons) ago. We shall see how extremely difficult it is to attain enlightenment and how parami must be developed until ready to fully realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma and achieve Buddhahood to become the Sammasambuddha.

When he was born Sumedha the Hermit, four asankheyya and a hundred thousand kappa ago, he received the prediction from the Buddha Dipankara that he would attain enlightenment and become Sammasambuddha the Arahanta by the name of Gotama. How might one so predicted have felt? Another four asankheyya and a hundred thousand kappa more? In his great benevolence, however, the Buddha had the perseverance to develop and accumulate parami, all qualities and potentials required to fully realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma. With so much kilesa and no discipline to eliminate it, it would be impossible to do so. Some might think it is unnecessary to gradually whittle away kilesa nor to develop and accumulate kusala. They might think that upon hearing the Dhamma and a little practice, one might be able realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma. But that is not so for those who would be able to do so must be conscientious, as was the bodhisatta during the path he took in the past.

What was his reaction when Sumedha the Hermit heard that he was to become a Sammasambuddha the Arahanta? With wisdom he deliberated on the Dhamma that would be buddhakaraka-dhamma or dhamma that contributes to the attainment of buddhahood. After which he concluded that there are ten buddhakaraka dhamma, which are parami (perfections) to deliver one from the shores of an ordinary person to those of the complete eradication of akusala.

To realize ariya-sacca dhamma is therefore according to causes, which means that if the causes aren’t ready, none could do so. The first buddhakaraka-dhamma is dana-parami (generosity). We might all be familiar with the ten parami but it should be realized that dana is a kusala that expects no recompense whatsoever, because there is no desire for rebirth or life, nor desire for riches, fame, praises or happiness, none even for familiarity or intimacy. Dana must be for the sake of relinquishing the attachment to all materials.

Each should consider whether his own dana leads to the abandon of attachments and the ability to develop panna or wisdom that sees the harm of attachments and thereby develop dana-parami as much as possible.

Second is sila-parami, the abstention from harming or abusing others physically or verbally. Sila is the basis of all kusala for wherever there is kusala, there is no abuse of any kind, only beneficence and altruism, which are other kinds of kusala still.

Third is nekkhamma-parami, or the emancipation from attachment to kama or worldly pleasures. Even with dana there is still attachments to objects and even with sila, or the abstention from wrongdoing there is still attachments to objects. Therefore if one sees that, with so much attachment, dana and sila cannot eliminate it all, there would be perseverance to gradually relinquish and attenuate the attachment to sight, sound, smell, taste, bodysense contact and other dhamma such as fortune, fame, praise and happiness as much as is in one’s power to do so, gradually, bit by bit. None can end the attachment to everything quickly. Even if one should leave home to become a bhikkhu, which is a superior level of nekkhamma, when the panna (wisdom) and other parami are not sufficiently developed, one is not able to eliminate or attenuate attachment. As attachment has been accumulated over an eternity of time, it takes a long time to abandon attachment. Those who can abandon everything: existence, being and birth must be ones who see the disadvantage of attachment to sight that is appearing through the eyes, to sound, to smell, to taste, to bodysense contact, which has always been the case in every existence and birth. Without truly developed panna or parami, it is impossible to end these attachments.

As long as one does not feel that attachment to existence, sight, sound, smell, taste, bodysense contact and to all the rest, is dangerous, like being a prisoner, there would be no perseverance to develop panna and emancipate from samsara-vatta or perpetual rounds of wandering rebirth.

Thus it is a very intricate, important issue that the Buddhists must listen to and contemplate and examine most carefully.

Fourth is the panna-parami, panna being the reality that rightly understands and knows realities appearing at the moment as they really are. At this moment, as realities appear, there can be no panna if there had been no perseverance to listen to the Dhamma of the Buddha. Other pursuits and practices cannot result in panna that knows realities appearing at this instant. This is the necessary diligence to the savaka or the listeners. The perseverance of the one who would develop panna towards buddhahood must be much greater than this.

Sumedha the Hermit, who was a bodhisattava, taught himself as follows: that he should not make exceptions of any people, whether of low, middle or high extraction, but approach all wise men and ask questions, even as those receiving alms does not make exceptions of any household, whether of low, middle or high extraction.

This demonstrates the perseverance of the one who would be Buddha the Supremely Enlightened, and manifests that panna arises from listening to no matter whom, that one must glean all that is right view and right understanding from listening in order to become bahussutta or the one who has great experience in listening and reflection.

When Sumedha the Hermit had heard the prediction that he would become a Buddha from the Buddha Dipankara, he had audiences with and listened to the Dhamma from 23 other Sammasambuddha which, including the Buddha Dipankara, makes 24. This is called jirakala-bhavana, which means development over a very, very long period indeed.

Fifth is viriya-parami, meaning relentless perseverance no matter the difficulties. Everyone who has been successful in other areas would see that there is nothing more difficult than endeavoring to abandon vice, perform good deeds and purify one’s mind from akusala. In fact, all success, both worldly and in the Dhamma, cannot be achieved without perseverance. But between worldly endeavors, which are full of desire, and kusala endeavors, which gradually eliminate kilesa, the latter would always require more effort. Normally, we all persist in doing akusala, meaning endeavoring with attachment and desire in sight, sound, smell, taste and bodysense contact which anyone can prove has always been the case. That is we desire sight and we endeavor to get it. We also endeavor to have fortune, fame and happiness. It obviously takes a very long time to change from akusala to kusala perseverance, which is to abandon and not to possess, meaning to abandon attachment in sight, sound, smell, taste, bodysense contact, and the rest including fortune, fame and happiness.

Consider the supreme perseverance of the bodhisatta when he was born as Mahajanaka.

Mahajanaka took leave of his mother and boarded a ship to trade in the faraway land of Suwannabhumi. During the voyage there was a great tempest with waves that wracked the ship to the point of wrecking it. Upon learning that the ship was sinking, he ate his fill of food and covered himself stoutly with oil-soaked clothes. When the ship sank, those in the ship drowned and fell prey to sea creatures. But Mahajanaka had the strength from the nourishment that he had partaken and the clothing soaked in oil enabled him to stay afloat and protected him from aquatic beasts. With relentless perseverance he swam in the ocean for seven days. Manimekhala, a deva, witnessed his plight and tested him with the question, “Who is this swimming for seven days when he cannot even see the shore? Why persevere in swimming?”

Mahajanaka answered, “Perseverance is always useful. Even without seeing the shore, I shall continue to swim until the day I should reach it.”

Manimekhala said, “The ocean is so vast. No matter how you persevere in swimming you would not reach the shore. You will certainly die before that.”

Mahajanaka answered, “Those who persevere will not be criticized because they have done their duty to the utmost even though they should die during their endeavor.”

Manimekhala continued to ask him, “To endeavor without perceiving how to achieve the goal is wrought with difficulties and life threatening. What is the good of persevering?”

Mahajanaka said, “We might not be sure that what we are doing will succeed, but if we do not persist but cease the endeavor, we would suffer the consequence of laziness and the desired goal will never be reached. One should have perseverance even in matters that may not succeed. Because I persevere, without wavering from my resolutions, I survive in this sea when others have perished. I shall try to the last of my strength to reach the shore.”

Having heard thus, Manimekhala praised his perseverance and carried him to the shore of the city of Mithila.

This is one of the Buddha’s lives in which we see the undaunted perseverance which is hard to achieve. If you cannot even persevere to swim across the ocean, how can you persevere to cross Ogha or the Ocean of Kilesa, which is far more difficult?

To develop qualities that are parami in order to reach the shore is no small matter because as everyone knows, we all have kilesa and to abandon the kilesa that we are having, that arises even in little things, is extremely difficult to achieve. For example, while we are enjoying ourselves for whatever reason, if someone told us to stop, not to desire it, cease to enjoy it; whether it were movies, plays, television, newspaper or whatever, who would be able to do it then, when lobha is arising to attach itself to the object of our desire.

Such is daily life. There is attachment to everything through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, bodysense and mind. So how can we abandon attachment to the reality that is attaching itself? If we do not have panna that knows the truth about realities, we cannot abandon akusala. Abandoning akusala has to be done correctly, not depending upon our desire to, for example, abandon lobha before the others. It depends upon respective levels of akusala, by first abandoning the wrong view that realities are the self, entities and people.

Sixth is khanti-parami. It is certainly not enough to have the preceding five parami to be able to eradicate kilesa. The sixth one is khanti-parami or tolerance; tolerance for pain, happiness, hardship, praise, degradation in order to abandon attachment to the self. As long as there is the self, there is still attachment to praises and honor or irritation in degradation. Tolerance should be universal, both in happiness, unhappiness and in difficulties: like the earth, which must tolerate whatever is discarded upon it, both clean and dirty. In our lives, no matter in which lifetime, in happiness or sorrow, in hardship of any kind, while we listen to the dhamma, we must be tolerant to continue to persevere through samsara-vatta.

In this lifetime, we could see that while we are enjoying ourselves, we are not doing kusala because we are having attachment. Sometimes we may think of doing kusala but akusala-citta arises so we leave off or do something other than kusala.

Seventh is sacca-parami, meaning straightforwardness and truthfulness, not to act or say anything other than the truth. Whenever we perform good deeds to anyone, we do not expect anything in return because it is truly the act of doing good, not to perform in exchange for something, not to deceive or pretend. If it were an act that is useful to others but performed with an exchange in mind, not sincerity, then it is like pretense or deception because it is done with one’s own good in mind and not the good of another.

In this matter of sacca (truth), or being a straight person, there is a parallel saying that sacca is like a specific medicine for a specific illness, whether it is ginger or chili, it cures that precise illness, not something else. Depending on the type of medicine it cures the corresponding illness. Therefore if anyone hopes to make kusala his parami, the act of kusala must be uniquely for kusala, and not for other purposes.

The eighth is adhittana-parami, to be steadfast in developing kusala in order to pare away kilesa and fully realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma. Some people may think of developing panna or have firm intention in this lifetime to be beneficent, but when akusala arises, their resolutions towards kusala is shaken. But for those really steadfast in that lifetime to do kusala, they would not be shaken and lead their lives according to their intention to gradually eliminate kilesa. There is a simile saying “though the winds blow from all directions, those with firm intentions would not waver.” Therefore it’s a matter of self examination in matters of wearing away kilesa, of reaching the “shore” of the eradication of kilesa.

Ninth is metta-parami. The word ‘metta’ is often used but how often does the metta-citta arise? We can all use words but we must examine the real characteristics of the citta whether one really has metta, which is friendship and benevolence in daily life, since it is a good and proper thing to have. Or is it only a word we use to say, “Let everyone have metta for one another” while in real life we encounter someone without examining ourselves whether we have metta for them or not.

Something that everyone should consider is that to have metta for a good person, who is helpful and beneficent, is not difficult. But to have metta for useless, non-beneficient and unworthy people is more difficult. But metta should not be limited. Those who develop metta should have metta for all, whether it were someone good or bad. It is not that one should not have metta for bad people, but only for the good. If so, that would not be parami because it could not cleanse the irritation within. While there is no metta for others, that moment there is irritation for that person. Metta is comparable to “water which saturates, bathes and cools wherever it passes”. Anyone who has metta for all others, no matter whom they meet, both good and bad is like water that saturates and cools everyone whose life they touch. At that instant citta would relinquish akusala, or dosa, because whenever metta does not arise, there might still be aversion for others.

Tenth is upekkha-parami, which means equanimity both in happiness and unhappiness, it is not moved because it takes happiness and unhappiness as the same thing: realities that arise because of conditions and then fall away. No one can own happiness and unhappiness. Everything is Dhamma. Those who have upekkha are like the person with a balance weighing happiness and unhappiness, which is balanced or equal between both emotions.

It is obvious that even though everyone might know the ten parami as good, in everyday life, not in every occasion can parami occur. Because there are a multitude of akusala for which one parami, the viriya-parami, is indispensable in the elimination of. Even though one knows what is good but if one does not endeavor to pursue it, one can never succeed. But if one perseveres through the beginningless samsara until each eradicates kilesa, one must know that the essential parami that benefits all other parami is viriya-parami. Having studied the dhamma, one realizes that “viriya” arises at almost every instant. Perseverance arises with almost every kind of citta, that is after seeing, there is perseverance; after hearing, there is perseverance. After seeing thinking arise, and while thinking, perseverance arises concurrently, with good or bad thoughts.

Therefore, in everyday life, other than seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling bodily contact, there is always perseverance arising with thinking. But perseverance in daily life evolves with living, no matter in the worldly or in the professional sense. Perseverance from birth to death is about living, not only in this life but in numerous others throughout hundreds of thousands of lifetimes and countless kappa, perseverance that occurs after seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, knowing bodysense contact occurs in matters of living in daily life.

When one has heard the dhamma and seen the truth, one can slowly change or increase viriya or perseverance from endeavor in akusala to those in kusala, from those in wrong livelihood, wrong speech or wrong action and other akusala to perseverance in kusala-dhamma until it becomes perseverance in bodhipakkhiya-dhamma.

We can see that all dhamma must be gradually developed. Dhamma of the akusala kind accumulated evolves according to the strength of the specific akusala as opposed to the accumulation on the kusala side. Since the akusala side would be very powerful, one must rely on great perseverance in kusala to gradually pare away at akusala and develop panna to eradicate completely. Each might examine oneself in real life whether, after hearing the dhamma in this very existence and not former ones, there is any increase in perseverance for kusala ways and to which degree. Each would know that should one prove lacking in perseverance it is impossible to abandon akusala. One would then see the power of perseverance gradually increase, from the kusala in matters of daily life to the development of panna, which is the dhamma favorable to the realization of ariyasacca-dhamma, which takes a very long period of time. One must begin by listening to the Dhamma, and persevere in listening and contemplating rightly, in developing and accumulating panna. For whenever panna arises, akusala is gradually abandoned, bit by bit. Kilesa cannot be eradicated if the perseverance is not yet evolved in the dhamma that are bodhipakkhiya-dhamma or the dhamma on the side, or in favor of enlightenment.

Of the 37 bodhipakkhiya-dhamma, it can be said that they are far off or that they are close by. Near in that they can be developed when there is knowledge and understanding of realities, far in that before they can be fully complete with all 37 qualities, which are the main attributes of the enlightenment, which takes a long time. None of the 37 bodhipakkhiya-dhamma can be absent.

Therefore I would like to talk about bodhipakkhiya-dhamma which is the principle component on the part of enlightenment, of which there are 7 kinds:

  1. The four satipatthana
  2. The four sammappadhana
  3. The four iddhipada
  4. The five indriya
  5. The five bala
  6. The seven bojjhanga
  7. The eight magga

There are quite a few to be gradually developed, truly. The first kind of bodhipakkhiya-dhamma is the four satipatthana.

Sati is a dhamma of the good side. When there is satipatthana, it is the sati that is mindful of the characteristics of realities that are appearing complete with atapi [zeal] sampajano [full awareness]. Satipatthana is to be mindful of the characteristics of kaya, vedana, citta and dhamma according to the Tipitaka. But generally speaking it is to remember to be mindful of the characteristics of any reality that is appearing, since the reality appearing is inevitably kaya, vedana, citta or dhamma.

That it is categorized as kaya, vedhana, citta and dhamma is because we are used to taking kaya as the self, vedana as the self, citta as the self and dhamma as oneself or belonging to one.

Thus it is necessary to be mindful until panna is able to realize the truth about realities of which there is mindfulness in that, since it is not oneself, what is that reality? To acquire the perfect knowledge there must be perseverance, sampajanna [clarity of consciousness] and sati, which in Pali are called atapi sampajano satima.

None of the 37 bodhipakkhiya-dhamma, or seven kinds, are without perseverance or viriya, which reflects on diligence in life. Each should really deliberate upon whether the majority of assiduousness in daily life is in matters of akusala (unwholesomeness) or kusala (wholesomeness), or better still, beginning to persevere with regard to developing panna in order to realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma.

The four sammappadhana are directly perseverance itself: perseverance in preventing akusala that has not yet arise to arise; perseverance in abandoning akusala that has already arisen; perseverance in making kusala that has not yet arisen to arise; perseverance in developing to perfection kusala that has arisen.

This is indeed perseverance, and whenever it arises with panna that knows characteristics of realities that are appearing, that perseverance is sammappadhana, or the right perseverance. (Padhana is perseverance. Samma is right.) The four sammappadhana are the right perseverance because it prevents sinful akusala that has not arisen from arising, perseveres in abandoning akusala that has arisen, in making kusala that has not yet arisen arise and in developing to perfection kusala that has arisen. This must be gradually developed until the ariya-sacca-dhamma is realized. At that moment the 37 bodhipakkhiya-dhamma would become complete.

Whenever there is mindfulness of the characteristics of realities there are currently the four sammappadhana.

The four iddhipada are

  1. chanda-samadhi-padhana-sankhara
  2. viriya-samadhi-padhana-sankhara
  3. citta-samadhi-padhana-sankhara
  4. vimamsa-samadhi-padhana-sankhara

Chanda-samadhi-padhana-sankhara is having great chanda or having chanda as adhipati [predominance] sampayutta [accompanied] by samadhi. All sankhara that are padhana are called padhana-sankhara.

The word ‘padhana-sankhara’ is a name for perseverance where the four iddhipada comprises chanda, viriya, citta and panna for they are iddhipada or the dhamma that is pada for the realization of ariya-sacca-dhamma.

The five indriya are saddha, viriya, sati, samadhi and panna, which include viriya.

The five bala are saddha-bala, viriya-bala, sati-bala, samadhi-bala and panna-bala, which also include viriya.

The seven bojjhanga indeed involves towards enlightenment, being

  1. Sati-sambojjhanga
  2. Dhamma-vicaya-sambojjhanga
  3. Viriya-sambojjhanga
  4. Piti-sambojjhanga
  5. Passaddhi-sambojjhanga
  6. Samadhi-sambojjhanga
  7. Upekkha-sambojjhanga

The eight magga comprise

  1. Sammaditthi
  2. Sammasankappa
  3. Sammavaca
  4. Sammakammanta
  5. Samma-ajiva
  6. Sammavayama
  7. Sammasati
  8. Sammasamadhi

Sammavayama is also perseverance. It is obvious that there is no deficiency of perseverance in the 7 groups of bodhipakkhiya-dhamma. Therefore one might have only heard of the name bodhipakkhiya-dhamma, one should know that it is the development of panna along with other dhamma of the kusala side so as to gradually know the characteristics of the realities that are appearing, unto the full realization of the ariya-sacca-dhamma. Therefore is the viriya that is arising at this instant kusala or akusala? If akusala, then it is not parami. And one could note that most viriya evolves with lobha (unwholesome desire): whenever there is desire for anything, through the eyes the desire to see, when there is viriya to create beautiful objects that one wishes to see. This is indeed daily life which can arise with kusala or akusala citta. But when it has arisen with akusala for such an eternity of time, one should see the beneficence of viriya-parami: for instead of assiduity in ways of akusala there should be perseverance to make viriya into viriya-parami.

Therefore one should examine the characteristics of viriya that is arising in this precise instant also. In the Atthasalini Cittuppadakandha there is a passage saying: “The characteristic of viriya is diligence. Its rasa or function is to benefit its sahajata-dhamma [co-nascent dhamma]. Its paccupatthana is undauntedness, not disheartenment. Its padatthana is stability and equanimity of mind.

To see relatively visible viriya it would be when there is diligence, as opposed to procrastination. But according to the Abhidhamma, it is a very intricate dhamma which is manifested as a cetasika that arises with the citta. One can observe that even in moments of laziness there must be viriya-cetasika arising concurrently, but of the kind that evolves with procrastination. No one wants to be diligent, to be lazy is more pleasant. Even in moments of procrastination there is viriya to continue to be lazy.

This shows that Dhamma is truly intricate and should be carefully examined in its characteristics, rasa or function, paccupatthana or symptoms or appearance, as well as padatthana or immediate causes. Another characteristic of viriya cetasika that many may not have considered but which the Atthasalini Cittuppadakandha states as; “Braveness, bravery and dauntlessness are the characteristics of viriya-cetasika. When there are two people, one brave and one cowardly, even though the coward, according to the Abhidhamma, must also have viriya, the courageous one will show more clearly the characteristics of viriya because the person must have perseverance to succeed in doing certain things no matter the obstacles or perils involved.

Courage is therefore a feature of viriya-cetasika and when it is one the side of kusala, it attains the status of indriya and becomes viriyindriya. When it arises concurrently with saddha, sati, samadhi and panna and it is developing satipatthana, it is samma-vayama, the right perseverance to be mindful, study and know the characteristics of realities appearing as usual in this moment. With increased panna it becomes viriya-bala, with unwavering strength to examine and know the characteristics of nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma under any circumstances. There is never the thought that the characteristics of nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma cannot be known at such and such a moment.

A passage in the Atthasalini Cittuppadakandha explains the viriyindriya so that one might be able to examine the characteristics of viriya-cetasika as given in the book as follows: “The evolution of braveness is called viriya or the action of the brave is viriya.”

Is there any courage in anything from day to day in order to say what is right or to be honest without fear of trouble, hardships, penury or poverty?
Or some might dare to explain the causes and results of Dhamma without caring that they may not be loved by the ignoramus. (There may be people who misunderstand the intention but Dhamma is still Dhamma.) Thus one might see that the brave dare do anything good both in the worldly and in Dhamma ways.

Another aspect is that it is called viriya because it causes things to evolve in ways, method or upaya that indicates intelligence. Viriya is called an indriya because of its being adhipati [sovereign] by overpowering procrastination.

Also called an indriya because it predominates in matters of supporting.

Viriya is arising with each and everyone but if the Dhamma, the Buddha’s teaching had not explained it, it would be impossible to recognize the characteristics of viriya according to its meanings and aspects, even in the definition “called indriya because it predominates in matters of supporting”. Whenever kusala-citta arises or while one is doing something with persistence and diligence, one should know that because viriya-cetasika is supporting at that moment the deed is done without disheartenment.
This very viriya is an indriya, thus it is called viriyindriya. Its characteristic is beneficence as well as support. Those who develop panna and benefit from viriya would not retreat from kusala-dhamma just as an old house would remain standing because of its support from the posts that are incorporated into its structure. At this moment, if one is bored, lazy, sleepy, or disheartened, one is like an old, decaying house because one cannot stand, remain or evolve with kusala. Viriya-cetasika is a reality characterized by beneficence and support like an old house needing posts for support to remain standing.

To begin with, one must realize that viriya is characterized by beneficence. The Buddha manifested several similes to help understand the characteristics of viriya-cetasika, which is arising and evolving at this moment:
“Like a small army and a great one at war, when the smaller retreats the king would be informed. He would then send troops and transport to his army which with those very support would defeat the enemy instead. Even so is viriya, which would not discourage or dishearten its sampayutta-dhamma but uplift or support them.” As said earlier viriya is characterized by support. Viriya supports the interest in what one listens to so that one examines it and understanding arises.

A good example concerning viriya, which is an acolyte of panna, is as follows. A passage in Khuddakanikaya Mahaniddesa Atthakatha Atthavagga the first Kamasuttaniddesa says:

“The Venerable Sariputta manifested the development of parami in order to completely eradicate kilesa and attain arantship as follows: Say that there are two cities, one being the city of thieves the other is the city of happiness. Then a great warrior happened to think that as long as the city of thieves still stands, the city of happiness will not be safe from harm. We shall render the city of thieves a city no longer. He put on his armor and took up his sword, entered the city of thieves and struck at the stockade erected at the city gate, destroyed the door and window panel hinges, withdrew the bolts, destroyed the walls, filled the moats, took down the flag raised for dignity and beauty and burnt the city. Then he returned to the city of happiness, entered the castle, surrounded by his relatives and had a delicious meal. The simile is such. Sakkayaditthi is like the city of thieves, nibbana the city of happiness. The developer of bhavana a great warrior who thinks that as long as ties or sakkayaditthi are still binding one is never free from danger.”

The last part says, “Sakkayaditthi is like the city of thieves, nibbana the city of happiness. The developer of bhavana a great warrior who thinks that as long as ties or sakkayaditthi are still binding one is never free from danger.” The akusala-dhamma that must be distinguished first is sakkayaditthi, that still takes realities as the self. Therefore it must be the panna that really sees that the city of thieves and the city of happiness are different.

The city of happiness is peaceful but the city of thieves is troubled, chaotic, restless. And as long as there is wrong view, taking realities for the self, entities or persons, there is no escape from restlessness, troubles and worries. Besides, those who develop panna to attain qualities of the sotapanna, (who realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma and could, within seven rebirths at most, attain the arahantship with no more rebirths whatsoever) should therefore see that kilesa and other dukkha reside in the attabhava or form of self or nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma, and to eradicate kilesa and dukkha completely and definitively is not to have nama-dhamma or rupa-dhamma any longer. This is possible with one indispensable parami, the viriya-parami. It would be very useful to understand whether viriya is kusala or akusala, and at which moment in a day. Those who want to develop panna cannot know the characteristics of viriya unless they examines the dhamma that arises with oneself.

Towards the end of the Atthakatha Anumanasutta there is a passage saying that the preceptors of the past said that Bhikkhus should examine themselves three times a day. In the morning they should examine themselves whether such and so much kilesa is theirs. If so, there should be perseverance in order to abandon kilesa. If not, they should be heartened that they are well-ordained. In the afternoon they should do so again, as well as in the evening. When they cannot do so three times a day, they should twice a day. If not twice, then just once. But not to do so at all is improper.

Those of the past are pundits who have a way of reminding themselves. In comparison do people today have the idea of self-examination as did the pundits of the past? Thus one can see that even to examine one’s own akusala or kusala one must depend on viriya.

Once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening, if not, twice, then at least once, which kusala did the ancient sages remind us to examine? A passage in the Majjhimanikaya Mulapannasaka 225 says the Venerable Moggallana once manifested the Dhamma about the obedience to the Bhikkhus, teaching them to examine themselves: “The Bhikkhus should self-examine.”

One can see that if someone else should do it for us, if we should ask others how we are they would not be able to examine us as minutely as we could ourselves. None can know us better than ourselves. Some might not want to examine their own akusala but to truly benefit from and develop viriya in the ways of kusala, one must also see one’s own akusala. He said the Bhikkhus should consider thus: "Do I hold myself in high esteem and others low?" Upon examination should he know that he holds himself in high esteem and others low, then he should try to abandon this akusala. Should he know that he does not, that Bhikkhu should dwell in delight and happiness and study diligently day and night the kusala-dhamma.

Then again the Bhikkhus should consider thus: "Am I easily angered, possessed by anger?" Upon examination should they know that, “I am easily angered, possessed by anger,” he should try to abandon the bad
akusala-dhamma. Should he know that he is not easily angered, nor possessed by anger he should dwell in that delight and happiness and study diligently day and night the kusala-dhamma.

Problems caused by anger are common in daily life. Does one examine oneself to see if he is easily angered, possessed by anger. If so, try to abandon akusala-dhamma that are vile.

One must be mindful, see that it is bad. But if today we do not examine ourselves at all in bad things that we have done, later on we will certainly repeat the action, and there will be no self-improvement at all. Those who wish to really relinquish kusala, eradicate it completely and truly realize the
ariya-sacca-dhamma must have viriya or perseverance to see their own akusala.

The Dhamma Study and Support Foundation
would like to respectfully dedicate the kusala
from the study and support of Buddhism
to His Majesty the King who is like a
Janaka to the Thai people.


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