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You are here: Index Nonduality & Spirituality The Roots of Good and Evil: An Anthology by Nyanaponika Thera

The Roots of Good and Evil: An Anthology by Nyanaponika Thera
|Contents| I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII |

VI.Removal through Mindfulness and Insight

  27.    To be Abandoned by Seeing
           Comment
  28.    From the Satipatthana Sutta
  29.    Beyond Faith
  30.    The Visible Teaching
           Comment on Texts 28-30
  31.    Removal through the Comtemplation of Feelings
           Comment

27. TO BE ABANDONED BY SEEING  

Which are the things, O monks, that can neither be
abandoned by bodily acts nor by speech, but can be
abandoned by wisely seeing them? Greed can neither be
abandoned by bodily acts nor by speech; but it can be
abandoned by wisely seeing it. Hatred can neither be
abandoned by bodily acts nor by speech; but it can be
abandoned by wisely seeing it. Delusion can neither be
abandoned by bodily acts nor by speech; but it can be
abandoned by wisely seeing it.

                                        Anguttara Nikaya, 101: 23

Comment  

'Wisely seeing', according to the commentary, refers here to the wisdom pertaining to the paths of emancipation along with the
insight that culminates in the paths. From this explanation it follows that the term abandoning has to be understood here in its
strict sense, as final and total elimination, effected by realization of the paths of emancipation (stream-entry, etc.).

    Nevertheless, a weakening of the unwholesome roots can be effected also by body and speech, through curbing more and
more their outward manifestations in deeds and words, motivated by greed, hatred and delusion.

    The phrase 'wisely seeing' may serve to emphasize the crucial importance of mindfully observing the presence or absence of
the unwholesome roots within one's own mind flux. This repeated confrontation with them prepares the way to liberating insight.
 

28. FROM THE SATIPATTHANA SUTTA  

And how, monks, does a monk dwell practising mind contemplation on the mind?

    Herein a monk knows the mind with lust as with lust; the mind without lust as without lust; the mind with hatred as with hatred; the mind without hatred as without hatred; the mind with delusion as with delusion; the mind without delusion as without delusion ....

    Thus he dwells practising mind-contemplation on the mind, internally, or externally, or both internally and externally. He dwells contemplating the states of origination in the mind, or he dwells contemplating the states of dissolution in the mind, or he dwells contemplating the states of both origination and dissolution in the mind. Or his mindfulness that 'there is mind' is established in him to the extent necessary for knowledge and awareness. He dwells detached, clinging to nothing in the world. 


Majjhima Nikaya 10
29. BEYOND FAITH  

'Is there a way, O monks, by which a monk without recourse to faith, to cherished opinions, to tradition, to specious reasoning, or to preference for his preconceived views, may declare the final knowledge (of Arahatship), thus: "Rebirth has ceased, the holy life has been lived, completed is the task, and nothing remains after this"?

    'There is such a way, O monks. And what is it?

    'Herein, monks, a monk has seen a form with his eyes, and if greed, hatred and delusion are in him, he knows "There is in me greed, hatred and delusion"; and if greed, hatred and delusion are absent in him, he knows "There is no greed, hatred and delusion in me."

    'Further, monks, a monk has heard a sound, smelled an odour, tasted a flavour, felt a tactile sensation or cognized a mental object, and if greed, hatred and delusion are in him, he knows "There is in me greed, hatred and delusion"; and if greed, hatred and delusion are absent in him, he knows "There is no greed, hatred and delusion in me."

    'And if he thus knows, O monks, are these ideas such as to be known by recourse to faith, to cherished opinions, to tradition, to specious reasoning or to preference for one's preconceived views?'

    'Certainly not, Lord.'

    'Are these not rather ideas to be known after wisely realizing them by experience?'

    'That is so, Lord.'

    'This, monks, is a way by which a monk, without recourse to faith, to cherished opinions, to tradition, to specious reasoning or to preference for his preconceived views, may declare final knowledge (of Arahatship), thus: "Rebirth has ceased, the holy life has been lived, completed is the task and nothing more remains after this".'

Samyutta Nikaya, 47:12
30. THE VISIBLE TEACHING 24  

Once the venerable Upavana went to the Exalted One, saluted him respectfully and sat down at one side. Thus seated he addressed the Exalted One as follows:

'People speak of the "visible teaching". In how far, Lord, is the teaching visible here and now, of immediate result, inviting to come and see, onward-leading, to be directly experienced by the wise?'

    'Herein, Upavana, a monk, having seen a form with his eyes, experiences the form and experiences desire for the form.25 Of the desire for forms present in him, he knows: "There is in me a desire for forms." If a monk, having seen a form with his eyes, experiencing the form and experiencing desire for the form, knows that desire for forms is present in him - in so far, Upavana, is the teaching visible here and now, of immediate result, inviting to come and see, onwardleading, to be directly experienced by the wise.

    'It is similar if a monk experiences desire when he hears a sound with his ears, smells an odour with his nose, tastes a flavour with his tongue, feels a tangible with his body or cognizes an idea with his mind. If he knows in each case that desire is present in him - in so far, Upavana, is the teaching visible here and now, of immediate result, inviting to come and see, onward-leading, to be directly experienced by the wise.

    'Further, Upavana, a monk, having seen a form with his eyes, experiences the form without experiencing desire for the form. Of the absent desire for form he knows: "There is in me no desire for forms." If a monk, having seen a form with his eyes, experiencing the form without experiencing desire for the form, knows that desire for forms is not present in him -in so far, too, Upavana, is the teaching visible here and now, of immediate result, inviting to come and see, onwardleading, to be directly experienced by the wise.

'It is similar if a monk does not experience desire when he hears a sound with his ears, smells an odour with his nose, tastes a flavour with his tongue, feels a tangible with his body or cognizes an idea with his mind. If he knows in each case that desire is not present in him - in so far, Upavana, is the teaching visible here and now, of immediate result, inviting to come and see, onward-leading, to be directly experienced by the wise.'

Samyutta Nikaya, 35: 70
Comment on Texts 28-30  

When thoughts connected with greed (desire, attraction), hatred (anger, aversion) or delusion (prejudices, false views) arise in an untrained mind, generally one reacts to them in one of two ways: either one allows oneself to be carried away by them or one tries to repress them. The first type of reaction is a full identification with the unwholesome roots; the second extreme is the attempt to ignore their presence, shirking a confrontation with them. In this latter case, one regards the defiled thoughts as a disreputable part of one's mind, harmful to one's self-esteem, and thence blots them out from one's awareness.

    The approach through bare attention, as indicated in the above texts, is a middle way that avoids these two extremes. It involves neither passive submission nor anxious recoil, but a full awareness of the unwholesome thoughts while holding to the mental post of detached observation. These thoughts will then be seen simply as psychological events, as impersonal and conditioned mental processes, as 'mere phenomena rolling on' (suddhadhamma pavattanti). When thus objectified, they will no longer initiate emotional reactions by way of attachment, aversion or fear. Bare attention empties these thoughts of selfreference, and prevents the identification with them as a fictive ego. Thus the confrontation even with one's imperfections may give rise to a clear realization of egolessness. From that, again, there may emerge the state of mind described in the Satipatthana Sutta: 'He dwells detached, clinging to nothing.' It will now be understood why, in Texts 18 arid 30, it is said that even the awareness of the unwholesome in oneself can make the teaching 'visible here and now'.

    This application of detached awareness can be said to belong to the first method of Text 24, replacing the arisen unwholesome thoughts by the wholesome ones of right mindfulness. Even if one does not fully succeed with this method, a sober, factual awareness of the inherent danger, according to the second method, may prove to be effective. If not, one may then be obliged to use the stronger emotional impact of repugnance to eliminate them.
 

31.  REMOVAL THROUGH THE CONTEMPLATION OF FEELINGS  

In the case of pleasant feelings, O monks, the underlying tendency to lust should be given up; in the case of painful feelings the underlying tendency to resistance (aversion) should be given up; in the case of neutral feelings, the underlying tendency to ignorance should be given up.

    If a monk has given up the tendency to lust in regard to pleasant feelings, the tendency to resistance in regard to painful feelings and the tendency to ignorance in regard to neutral feelings, then he is called one who is free of unwholesome tendencies, one who has the right outlook. He has cut off craving, severed the fetter to existence, and, through the full penetration of conceit, he has made an end of suffering.26

If one feels joy, but knows not feeling's nature,
Bent towards greed, one will not find deliverance.

If one feels pain, but knows not feeling's nature,
Bent towards hate, one will not find deliverance.

And even neutral feeling which as peaceful
The Lord of Wisdom has proclaimed,
If, in attachment, one should cling to it,
One will not be free from the round of ill.

But if a monk is ardent and does not neglect
To practise mindfulness and comprehension clear,
The nature of all feelings will he penetrate.

And having done so, in this very life
He will be free from cankers and all taints.
Mature in knowledge, firm in Dhamma's ways,
When once his life span ends, his body breaks,
All measure and concepts he will transcend.

                                Samyutta Nikaya, 36: 3

Comment  

In these three 'underlying tendencies' (anusaya), we encounter the three unwholesome roots under different names. These
tendencies are defilements which, by repeated occurrence, have become habitual responses to situations provoking greed, hate
and delusion, and hence tend to appear again and again. They may also be called inherent propensities of the mind. Under
lying the stream of consciousness in a state of latency, they are always ready to spring up when a stimulus incites them, manifesting themselves as unwholesome deeds, words or thoughts. By having grown into underlying tendencies, the three roots obtain a most tenacious hold on the mind. Even moral conduct (sila) and concentration (samadhi), by themselves, cannot prevail against the tendencies; at best they can only check their outward manifestations. To uproot the tendencies at the level of depth, what is required is insight wisdom (vipassana-panna), aided by virtue and concentration.  The insight-wisdom needed to fully uproot the three must have the strength acquired at the two final stages of emancipation, non-return and Arahatship.27

    The non-returner eliminates completely the tendency to resistance or aversion, i. e. the root 'hatred'; the tendency to lust, i. e. the root 'greed', he eliminates as far as it extends to desire for the five outer sense pleasures.

    The Arahat eliminates the remaining tendency to lust, the desire for fine-material and immaterial existence, and also all tendencies to ignorance, the root 'delusion'.

    Though not able to effect a final elimination of the underlying tendencies, moral restraint in bodily and verbal acts helps to reduce the active formation of new unwholesome tendencies, and concentration helps to control the mental source of such tendencies, at least temporarily. Insight-wisdom attained on levels lower than the noble paths and fruitions will provide the basis for gradual progress towards the full maturation of liberating wisdom.

The type of insight practice which is particularly efficacious in weakening and removing the underlying tendencies is the Satipatthana method called the contemplation of feelings (vedananupassana). It is the uncontrolled reaction to feelings that produces and nourishes the tendencies. According to Buddhist psychology, the feelings one passively undergoes in sense experience are morally neutral. They are results of kamma, not creators of kamma. It is the reaction to feelings following the passive sense encounters that determines the wholesome or unwholesome quality of the responsive active states of consciousness. In the contemplation of feelings, one distinctly realizes that a pleasant feeling is not identical with lust and need not be followed by it; that an unpleasant feeling is not identical with aversion and need not be followed by it; that a neutral feeling is not identical with ignorant deluded thoughts and need not be followed by them. In that practice, the meditator learns to stop at the bare experience of pleasant, painful and neutral feelings. By doing so, he makes a definite start in cutting through the chain of dependent origination at that decisive point where feeling becomes the condition for craving (vedana paccaya tanha). It will thus become the meditator's indubitable experience that the causal sequence of feeling and craving is not a necesary one, and that the Buddha's words of encouragement are true: 'One can abandon the unwholesome! If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do so.' (See Text 22.)

|Contents| I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII |

You are here: Index Nonduality & Spirituality The Roots of Good and Evil: An Anthology by Nyanaponika Thera





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