9A. Five Stages of Giving Up The Sankharas (1)
Dated: Year 1994
Venerable Bhikkhus, Brothers and Sisters, in view of the departure tomorrow of several of you, I decided to deliver this Discourse so that those who have developed to higher states will be careful in maintaining those conditions with mindfulness.
Even an Arahant is mindful, you will understand the importance of mindfulness even in those who have developed to a very high states. You can’t forget the fact that you are using equipment, which is meant for a Worldly Life. Even your very Body and Mind are not meant for Nibbana. They are meant for continuity in the World, you will be among worldlings who will not understand your temperament, who will not even accept that you have developed, because some of these people they bear peculiar notions of about the behavior and conduct of a person who has attained to a high degree. That you will be like a rock seated down, could not move about, that sort of thing. And sometimes, some of them in their ignorance expect for you to display your psychic powers and show your power resulting from your attainment.
Such views are there among the ignorant masses, but then must bear in mind your attainment is not in the way of displaying the psychic power or some such development in you. Your attainment is getting rid of the defilements you are subjected to, and that the most important is the desire that had been this cause of your birth in the cycle of life. You have got rid of the Desire, as a result, you are free from the cycle of Births, and you have gained your Liberation. But, always bear in Mind, how did you get rid of Desire from your Mind, which once upon a time harbors Desire, which once upon a time promoted Desire, which once upon a time encourage Desire. You got Desire out of your Mind as a result of an effort you made, knowing fully well the implications of Desire, and not permitting the mind to kfall back to a pattern of an existence which promote Desire. You have obstructed that promotion of Desire by the mind.
How did you obstruct it?
By not permitting the mind to act in a manner, which promote Desire.
What have you done there?
What you have done is stop the activity of the mind in promoting Desire
Be mindful not permit the mind to act in a manner which promotes Desire
Confirming the Realization is there and with the realization, this sort of activity on your path reduce the Desire in you little by little. And along with that reduction, there was the full development in you of the 2 states of things that is Impermanence, unsatisfactory nature of things and the soullessness. This wisdom got planted well in you, in every respect, you see Impermanence, in every respect, you see nothing substantial in this world, in every respect, you see that there is nothing continuing in you. The very Body that you always thought about once upon a time, you took much pride in maintaining it in good condition, now is something which you can’t notice. Though your eyes may show you the Body, but in your mind, there is no consciousness unless you purposefully does so. You feel that, that which was there, now-yourself everything is empty around you. There is Perfect Peace in the mind, these are not things one can describe fully to convince a person who has not experience them.
I just gave you an idea. But how did you approach this state of Mind?
By a process of overcoming the defilements. By a process of realizing the Truth. And dispelling your Beliefs, Your false views and your Habits little by little with the realization dawn into you. The first instance is when you conduct your meditation about Impermanence; unsatisfactory nature of things and the soullessness, there is a temporary suppression of the defilements.
Defilements are not active in that state, because you have got a foothold of realizing the truth, so to say. And with that dawning of realization, the defilements that made you Worldly, now temporary gets suppressed. And you can live in there for some time. For such time you maintain the truth in your mind with effort, and that is Impermanence, unsatisfactory nature of things and the soullessness. But it is merely a suppression, a temporary suppression. And you call that Thadhangapprahanaya, Temporary Suppression. It’s like when you are about to uproot the tree, you keep the branches as such, that’s all you have done. Still, the trunk, roots are there, in that same condition it was in. And there is a possibility new shoots coming out as time goes on. You are not completely destroyed the plant but clip the branches only. Then you pursue your practice further, the temporary suppression becomer somewhat realistic to you now. The Truth is realistic to you, though it has not taken a firm foothold in your life, in your Meditation you are satisfied that there is Impermanence, unsatisfactory nature of things and the soullessness. And when you are out of that meditation, but you can still maintain that temperament in your mind. That is, much more than mere suppression, that is suppression plus understanding so to say, that’s called the Vishkambanapprahanaya
Persist Thadhangapprahanaya – Temporary suppression of your defilements. Second is Vishkambanapprahanaya. If I take an object to hold an example to you, it’s like now we have taken an action to uproot the tree. What you did in the first instance was to clip the branches. Now, what you are doing to the vishkambanapprahanaya you cut the trunk from the base, but don’t forget the fact that leftover of the trunk remains still there in the ground, with the roots still alive, still gathering food to the trunk. As time goes on, there is always a possibility that new shoots coming out from the trunk. And again, new plant arising, though you have cut the trunk, you have not uprooted the tree as yet, but you are happy about the development that is taking place in you because now the truth is dawn into you.
And the realization of the truth you are moment to moment, developing it.
More or less you live in that very often, mindfully of the realization of the Truth, Impermanence, unsatisfactory nature of things and the soullessness. But you have not completely remove the obstacles that fix that Truth in your Mind. They are still arises in your mind. Certain feelings pretend to upset the realization of the Truth. Because there is still life in the root of that tree which you have not removed. You only remove the branches, you have removed the trunk, but the root of that tree is still well planted in the ground. And the root attached to the plant leftover is collecting food, possibility of a revival in the near future, which shoots coming out as a result of feeding going on by the roots.
Likewise, though you have, to great extend suppressed and, to your satisfaction removed some of those feelings which you earlier promoted the desires though they are not active now, you can’t say that you have completely eradicated them. They are still alive, in a weak moment, sometimes you may give in to a temptation, later, may repent for what you have done, because still there are remains in you, the possibility of the defilements arising, you have to be extremely mindful.Then, you reach the state, Brothers and Sisters, you pursue your meditation further and further and further. Truth becomes convincing to you, and you reach the state when you more live in mindfulness of the truth. It has become your Life now, live in mindful of the truth. That could be compared to a state where you have uprooted even the trunk, the leftover of the trunk from the ground with the roots. Nothing left there now when you examine the place to indicate the possibility of the shoot arising, because you have removed every possible leftover in that trunk. But still, there are, bear in mind the roots that have traveled a distance. You have not pursued those things and then uprooted them completely. Maybe that when you removed the root of the trunk that you have severed the connections from those roots that have gone far. Though you are satisfied that you have uprooted the stem completely, still those can produce the shoot now and again. That 3rd stage is called Samuchchedhapprahanaya
Now there are 3 stages we have dealt with
Thadhangapprahanaya, Vishkambanapprahanaya and Samuchchedhapprahanaya.
Completely uprooted the tree, but bear in mind Brothers and Sisters, there can be later little of a Defilement which as a result of your carelessness, not being very careful, not being mindful always, may give rise to not a very serious lapse but some lapse which you yourself will be wondering, Why I committed that lapse? Ya ya, I have finished my task, but in a weak moment you have given in to that lapse. And you start repenting what did that do that still latent energy still leftover. That is why Buddha says you must still continue to be very mindful.Don’t forget the fact Brothers and Sisters, you have lived with this defilements not one birth, two Births, ten Births, hundred births, thousands of Birth you have lived with these defilements. So to say they are in the marrow of your bones. Because you have practiced these defilements, as part and parcel of your life. And now that you have developed yourself along the path shown by Buddha, and gain the ability to dispel them. But, still the association you had with these things cannot be completely eradicated, because you have lived with them for Births and births and births that is the trend the mind always turn to if you give in to relaxes, because I have been turning that way for many many many many Births.
Now, we have turned it the other way, now establishing the other way with your mindfulness. And when we relax there is a possibility that may turn the other way also once in a while. That is due to the latent leftover defilements in yourself. It compared to an instance where you light the fire on a rock, it has been lighted for many, many, many, many times. The rock not only surfaces get heated up but you find this heat penetrating deep into the rock as a result of your constantly lighting this fire on the rock. Though you may wash the surface of the rock and removed leftover of the fire. But you yourself will feel that you place your hand on the rock, there is still the heat, that is the latent Defilements. And if you are not careful there is a possibility of a lapse occurring on your path. Sometimes you yourself may be doubting;
Where am I? What am I? Who am I?
I have finished my task, how is it possible that the lapse of this nature to occur after having gone through all these things with us for so many many months and years and having satisfied myself that I have completed my task? You cannot forget the the fact, Brothers and Sisters, that you live with Worldlings, the very atmosphere that you living in is a Worldly atmosphere, every word that you hear from the Worldling is all for the continuity in this Life. You have to be with them, you have to live with them, you have to listen to their conversation, sometimes it may be that in an odd moment that they may even ask a question from you in a Worldly way and you have to answer in a Worldly way, because you are still communicating with them. A person who has reach that stage of getting rid of all the defilements is suitable place or in midst of isolated place where he can be to himself. Because he’s at this predictable life, the Worldly life.But that he hasn’t the ability to work with the others, because he has a mind, he is adapting himself again to an old pattern of existence, that he can do but in reality there is no urge for such existence. There is no encouragement in any way, you find emptiness in everything. There is nothing that attracts him, and to such a person, isolation is the best. But, when you think of the circumstances you are confronted with, aren’t it difficult to find conditions of that nature existing in your country. Therefore you must be extremely careful, must be very guarded; your Mindfulness must be there in every step you take, in every utterance you make, Silence is gold, utter only what is necessary, in a few words. Mixing up also must be careful, because you will be, you will have to help to mix up with persons who hasn’t the temperament, who hasn’t the temperament in keeping with your temperament. And in their utterances they are always encouraging you the worldly way. That is, something which you have to be careful about.
In the past, in this country there were ashrams built for thousands of such devotees who have attain such heights to live their life on their own. One thing that is upper most in the mind that has cleared all the fetters, he or she wishes to see the end of her or his existence as early as possible, that’s a great wish.I have finished my task, there is no purpose in dilly dallying further in this world. The best that I could do is to pass away as earlier as possible but he would not commit any wrong, he would not harm his life, no, but the wish is there always.But then nothing that he can aspire for, this one empty state of mind. He may utter certain things, he may even act in a certain way, you as a worldling watching her, will not be able to understand the depth of her mind, it’s very deep and that is, Passaddhipprahanaya.
That is the fourth stage of giving up your fetters and comparable to a state where you have let the fire on the rock for many many many times. Though you have cleared all the remnants left over the fire, and even washed the surface. Still, there is heat that has penetrated the depth of the rock, you cannot remove that easily. As time goes on, it must wear away, that is the thing that you must bear in mind, as time goes on it must wear away, it must disappear. Because no more encouragement now given to that heat to maintain its strength. It is now still living on its old experience. The strength it has gathered earlier when the fire was lit on the surface of the rock, though you have removed it, still that strength is there. The heat that has penetrated in the rock that cannot remain forever, it has to disappear but it takes a little time for final disappearance. That is why Buddha says that the final giving up of your defilements is at your death.
One would ask a question; why did he go to that extend?
That it is at your death that you finally give up everything. When you have pursue the part, when you have 3 stages given up your defilements and uprooted the tree also. Still, it is that there is a possibility of a latent defilement arising in you unless you are mindful. And only stage where you can be hundred percent confident about your condition is at your death, you will give up everything. Because the body and the mind is no longer there to produce anything further, you have finished your tasks, equipment that has provided to you to maintain a worldly life, now you are abandoning, you are abandoning your body. You are abandoning your thinking process completely.
The karmic force that you have committed till the karmic reaction. The Karmic force is still there, but that doesn’t react on you now. No one can completely finish all the Karmic forces that he has gathered in Life and attain Nibbana. Unless of course the 5 heinous crime one would commit, which if you have committed would ultimately lead you to suffering. And it is after death is over that you will attain Nibbana if you pursue that way of life.
In other respect, no one can complete the karmic forces you have committed in life, there are mountains of Karma, still waiting, but you have taken the opportunity to develop your mind and escape from the forces Karma would bring on you. Like the cause Venerable Angulimala who has committed, caused the death of nine hundred innocent persons. They are very heinous crime, but not like the 5 we have described, or referred to earlier as which are positively giving you results who make you suffer. And it’s after that, that you would be if I told you, you developed yourself but in this nine hundred there were no such instance though they were heinous crime. But he escaped; he took the option to develop his mind, and, ultimately, get rid of all the defilements, and liberated himself. Likewise, you all must can liberate ourselves. None of you can say we have heinous crime committed and still we have to suffer for those things, no, you will not be like this today if you have any such things behind you. Your life before is clear for you to pursue this line of action, and then gain your liberation. Only that amount of effort and perseverance to pursue this life, this path shown by Buddha, which lead you ultimately to Liberation.
Therefore, bear in mind the final state when you can get rid of your fetters and no more such fetters will ever follow you and create any lapse on your path is at the stage of your death – Nissaranpprahanaya.
Very often I get questions and letters, received from devotees, from Singapore. I have reach this height but I still find instances where I commit lapses, not of serious nature but in not keeping with the development that he or she has gone through. The answer is that, when you developed yourself to a height, you must maintain that condition, carefully be mindful, not to permit lapses to occur in you. If you fall back to circumstances which promote such lapses and mixing people who would promote also such commitments, after all bear in mind you are still possessing this thinking process, which is a worldly equipment, and also your body worldly equipment. So when you possess these equipment, you have to be very careful in your behavior, so that you would not encourage such equipment to throw you back to a lapse which you may commit unaware. You have to be cautious and having these equipment, and possessing them and making use of them therefore you must be careful. Let it be very very carelessly act, there could be lapse on your part, there could be. One would ask a question for instance, of course of a serious lapse, but a lapse on your part where you feel is not in keeping with your attainment. You ask a question, what would be my position then, for instance if I commit a lapse unaware as you have. You have built your mind to higher state to test, don’t you re-call to that development. The dawning of the truth that you have developed with much effort, though in a weak moment you may commit a lapsed like that. In my opinion that does not erase all the effort you have taken in the past in regards to your achievement. What very often happens, if you are a developed person up to a point even if you committed a certain lapse which in not keeping with your development, you will rebuke yourself in Worldly. I did this, I did this, I did this, I did this by usable repentance, that also can or you rebuke yourself.
In a very relaxed moment, you may not see the thing on what you are doing, but realization dawns to you immediately, that what you have done is wrong. That is not in keeping with your condition of existence, which you have developed within you. And, natural reaction is that you start repenting. One would ask a question for instance such as “was it not a serious lapse that you completely get thrown off back to the existence the Worldly way?”
No! To that extent, I don’t think any person who has developed the mind would ever commit, he can’t make up his mind to commit such a serious lapse. Trivial lapses he may commit but he must rebuke himself and be more careful in future not to permit his mind to entertain such thoughts and you will be more and more mindful. But bear it always bear in mind this fact Brothers and Sisters, you are living in a World, where the beings are leading Worldly Life. When you have continued to live, you have lived with them, they cannot understand your condition, your mental condition, sometimes in their pattern of behavior, they would utter things which you would not like to hear, in their conduct also which you may see things which you don’t like to see, that is the most trying part of your life, when you go back to the World after attaining and you have to be very very cautious about it, very cautious about it. Because you have attained, you have given up so much of fetters, which the World has existed as quite normal. Those fetters are quite normal like Attachment, this is something that the World accepts as Good. You are attached to your Mother, you are attached to your Sister, you are attached to your Brother, you are attached to the Family, they’re quite good qualities in a person in a Worldly way. But bear in mind those are things which you have given up, because you have realize the foolishness to be attached like that, with whom I want to be attached to when there’s no Being as such.
Those are excellent views you have cultivated in your mind, true in every respect, but still, you are living in the World and with Worldlings you have to be extremely careful.
Therefore, bear in Mind that the final giving up of all your fetters, with no chance at all for them to create any lapse in you is at the time of your death, that’s call the Nissaranpprahanaya. Fifth one
Nissaranpprahanaya. Fifth one, and you can really imagine why Buddha considered the final giving up of everything. No more recur at your death, it’s because, you are possessed of equipment which are meant for the World, and you are using them when you are existing, and at your death you give up all your equipment, no more to deal with them again. As Mara said to Buddha, how can you teach, how can you lead these Bhikkhus along the Path for their attainment when they are using my equipment
Eyes, as my equipment
Ears, my equipment
Nose, my equipment
Tongue my equipment
Body my equipment
Even the process of thinking is my equipment.
And when using those equipment, you see, how could one expect a person to attain Nibbana? Because those are all meant for the Worldly way of life. Buddha admitted to the fact, “Yes Mara, what you say is true.”
Eyes are yours,
Ears are yours,
Nose is yours,
Tongue is yours,
Body is yours,
Even the very thinking process is yours.
They are all meant for the World, to continue with the World, to exist in the World.
And one has to give up these things, when one make an effort to find, reap that Liberation which you always aspire for. That’s why in the Discourse I gave you yesterday that Buddha will not speak to a person about attainment of Nibbana so long as he is living in a World created by himself. And what is that World that he has created?
He has create the World with his eyes,
He has create the World with his ears,
He has create the World with his nose,
He has create the World with his tongue,
He has create the World with his body, and
He has create the World with his thinking,
So long as he lives in that, and believes in that, there is no purpose in speaking to such a person about Nibbana. Therefore one has to see the end of the World before he realizes Nibbana. And, it is to such a person; Buddha will show the Path to the final attainment of Nibbana, Liberation. You can well imagine, how far you have to go in developing yourself. You also can well imagine, even a person who has reached that height, how careful he must be, because he is still equipped with the Mara equipment, only meant for the existence in this World, and not for Nibbana. So he is making use this equipment, living in the World, but his mind gets liberated. That person has to be extremely careful because the equipment may sometimes, in a moment lapse committed an act which is not in keeping with the attainment you have gained. Therefore, you have to be extremely mindful, and I would emphasize and say the final Liberation of the Being, giving up of all your fetters is at the stage of your death, when you give up your body and mind completely, give up all equipment possess by Mara, so that there cannot not be a lapse committed by you, with such equipment.
I am not proceeding further with this talk this time. I think this is a caution I am giving to those people who expect to leave this ashram on the 16th morning. Because I will not be available to them tomorrow. I am leaving to Gampaha in the morning at 5am to conduct a meditation class at Gampaha and will be back by about 5 or 6pm. So as a caution to those people who have developed themselves, I delivered this discourse on this subject, of the different states one has to get rid of your defilements. The final state, I again emphasize, is at your death, and that is the final giving up of your body and mind, which are meant for the World.
Thank you very much and may you all attain Nibbana.
9B. Five Stages of Giving Up The Sankharas (2)
By Venerable Amatha Gavesi
Dated: Year 1994
And in analyzing sankhara further, I made an effort to explain how sankhara become dukkha, how sankhara becomes the cause of dukkha, how cessation of sankhara become cessation of dukkha, and how the path leading to the cessation of dukkha is the path leading to giving up of sankhara.
Now that is a bit involved discourse and for beginners it’s a bit too long to take all the 4 things together. Therefore I decided today that we will deal with the 4 things at 4 different times, not altogether. Because it’s so involved that the entire philosophy of Buddhism lies in the activities of sankhara. You are sankhara, mass of sankhara or we call it formation.
What is formation?
Formation is the act of seeing,
Formation is the act of hearing,
Formation is the act of tasting,
Formation is the act of smelling,
Formation is the act of contact with the body, and
Formation is the act of thinking.
What the six sense bases you possess, what they perform that performance is production of sankhara and nothing else. And formation is a English term given to sankhara. I will be using very often the word sankhara because that is closer or easier for you to understand than formation because formation is something a term used by certain authority, but it is not so to said accepted term by all of us, something new towards the formation, therefore we will use the word sankhara more often.
Now, sankhara I will explain to you are nothing but the activities of the six sense bases.
What are you?
If I have to analyse you and explain who you are, you are nothing but the activities of the six sense bases. Nothing but that, that’s a summary of yourself. If I say where what is this world? That is the world which your sankharas has created to each of you. There is a world around all us.
Who created that world? It’s your eye that created that world, it’s your ear that created that world, it’s your nose that created that world, it’s your tongue that created that world, it’s your bodily activity that created that world and it’s your thinking that created that world.
Is there anything other than the activities of these six sense bases that has created the world? Is there anything in that world other than these activities of the six sense bases? Nothing. Therefore when it comes to a question who you are? You are the six sense base activities and nothing else. Then the question arises, if we are the six sense base activities, if we are searching for Nibbana, final everlasting peace, where does that peace lie?
That peace lies in yourself, in sankharas you produced. Therefore the entire philosophy of Buddhism is involved with this production of sankhara. If we have create the world by producing sankharas, and with the philosophy of Buddhism says that this world which you have created is a fiction, a delusion, then who created that world? Your sankhara, your sense bases created that world.
If I ask a question who you are?
According to the philosophy of Buddhism, you are mind and matter. This mind and matter causally create activities. This mind and matter causally create activities making use of your eye in seeing, making use of your nose in smelling, making use of your ear in hearing, making use of your tongue in creating taste, making use of your body in contact, having contacts, making use of your thinking process in thinking. That is what is normally going on and that activities not the activities of any individual in you but casually created, but casually created. If in your development of the mind you have realized that, then Brothers and Sisters, you have finished your task in this world because you have realized the truth. That there are six sense bases which check sense objects by the creation of a thought you see, and we live in a world created by the six sense bases.
The question that has to be asked by each of you is who is creating this world? Who created this world?
If you sensually speak according to your consciences, you have said I have created the world. But philosophy says there is no I in you to create this world. There is the body and the mind and the activity committed casually has created this situation. That is the correct answer. We are on the other hand as worldling believe that there is somebody within us. The philosophy says there is no one within you. If you say you saw something, it is an act of a causal creation, nothing else. It’s a cause and effect activity, whether I as a worldling says I saw this. The difference between the reality and the delusion is that in this delusion which we have created, we have planted an individual in us as the author of all our activities. But in truth and in fact, there is no such individual that you commit the act of seeing, hearing, smelling and these six sense base activities as a result of cause and effect. If we in our development of the mind realize that, that all our activities are casually created, that there is no being in us, it is this body and mind acting as cause and effect that create this situation, then we have ultimately realize the truth.
But the question is, is that the way you essentially feel about your activities? No.
Then the other point that you have to bear in mind is, you are gifted with an eye to see and gifted with the mental power to enable you to see the creation of a thought. You are gifted with the ear to hear, and that activity done by the creation of a thought, mental power. So are the other sense base activities. They get objects, that’s a physical reaction in the sense base and the outside object, and subsequently the consciousness takes over the task of performing that act of seeing by the creation of thoughts through the mental factors.
All those activities, one by one from the time you catch the object to the sense base, up to the time you see or hear or smell or taste or contact or think, till the act is over, it’s the mind that creates the entire situation. That is how we reasonably look at it and try to understand truthfully what is happening within us, but the fact remains but still we have as worldling a belief that there is somebody within us. Philosophy has clearly indicated that there is no person in you, and to prove that ample evidence had been given and reasons are attributed for you to come to a reasonable conclusion that there is no being in you. You come to that conclusion that there is no being in you as a result of the development your mind to higher degree from which conditions from which states you can see through things and understand the reality. But the average worldling, he has not developed this mind, he is merely led by what he experiences. Therefore he comes to a conclusion that there is a being in him. If he ask a question, is it merely a conclusion or is there something actually happening within you to create the situation in you? There is something happening.
What is it that is happening?
This consciousness that creates the thought for you to perform the activity of the sense base at the same time creates a delusion in you. That is the cause for this wrong conclusion you have arrived at.
What is the delusion this consciousness creates?
Consciousness create a thought to enable you to see,
Consciousness create a thought to enable you to hear,
Consciousness create a thought to enable you to smell,
Consciousness create a thought to enable you to experience a taste,
Consciousness create a thought to enable you to experience a contact,
Consciousness create a thought to enable you to think.
Is that the only thing the consciousness does?
While it creates the thought for you to perform the act of the sense base, it also a creates a delusion in your mind by making use of the very activity in the creation of thought, the very component that has given you the power to think, it make use of those components like contact, like feeling, like perception, like volition, those very things have been made used of by the consciousness to create in you that there is a being who is performing these activities.
We in our developed mind can now understand that situation clearly, but think of the average worldling, who hasn’t that capacity to realize this fact, to understand this delusion that is created by the consciousness. Whose? It’s Buddha who pointed that out to us. And we having developed our mind to a certain state, too now begin to see that that is the truth. That is then a delusion is created by the consciousness to enable you to come to a conclusion that there is a being in you. And the average man believes in that, he lives in that belief. All his activities on that belief that there is a being in him. He sees as having gone through that experience by somebody in authority within him. He hears as if it’s done by somebody within him. He smells as if it is done by somebody within him, he also experiences other sense base activities as if somebody within him is doing that.
Who created that?
This consciousness has created that, that aspect is very clearly shown by Buddha in the very act of the creation of the thought to enable you to perform these activities. The very components of that thought are made used of by the consciousness to create this false impression in you that there is a being in you. It is just not an imaginary thing. There is a purposeful creation of a situation like that in your mind by the consciousness. And it is only a developed mind that can understand that situation clearly. That the resultant that we come to a wrong conclusion, the belief, sakayaditthi, and what is that sakayaditthi? Your body becomes the owner of that being, around this body that there is the feeler, there is a person who perceives, and there is a person who commits the act and the consciousness always there in that activity, in back to the situation. We have lived in this false belief always thinking that all the activities committed by the 6 sense bases are committed by this being, he is responsible, but the developed mind can see that that is completely a deception created in us. The average worldling is ignorant of that situation. It’s only when he pursues Buddhism or Buddhist philosophy that he himself begin to realize are these true, that there is no such being in us but there is a delusion created by the mind for one to be deluded or one to be misled in coming to the conclusion that there is somebody within you. You must not think of the Arahat, the Arahat has reached the stage of clear identity of the situation. But we must think of the average individual who has not developed his mind. Therefore delusion plays a vital role in his mind in misleading him completely to come to the conclusion that there is a being in him. And what does he do? When he sees something, the sensation in the 5 mental factors enable you to identify that object which has caught your eye as something to your liking or not to your liking. That is just the quality of the object that has caught your eye, but who is the person who pursues that further and try to enjoy what is pleasant or create an aversion to what is unpleasant. It is this imaginary person who is supposed to be responsible for the act of seeing. Otherwise you would not pursue that act that aspect further. You would just see with your eye and that activity is causally created. The performance of the sense base activity as cause and effect is up to the extent of enabling you to perform the act of the sense base, like seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, contacting, thinking, that’s all. Who pursues the other aspect, the aspect that produces the situation where you pursue something pleasant and create an attachment where you pursue something unpleasant and create an aversion.
Who does that?
The sense base activity does not perform that act, so the consciousness is the party to it that we agree, because the mental condition but who pursues that act.
Then one would ask the question whether that extra activity on our part in pursuing an experience to that extent. Is it part and parcel of the act of seeing? Is it part and parcel of the act of hearing? Is it part and parcel of the act of smelling? Is it part and parcel of the act of tasting? Is it part and parcel of the act of contacting? Is it part and parcel of the act of thinking? No, it is something completely different. If it was part and parcel of the act of seeing, hearing, smelling tasting, contacting, thinking, you would never be able to stop that activity with any effort on your part. If you could not have stopped that further activity by effort on your part, you would have never gained your salvation. You would have been subject to this constant births you see and living birth after birth, birth after birth, birth after birth in this cycle of births and deaths. Because it has been done willfully by some force within you, it’s a extra activity on your part more than what is expected to convey to you by the consciousness in the way of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting that sort of thing, that you are in a position to stop that further activity, so that you only confine your activity of the sense base to only seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, contacting and thinking.
In that way there is no harm done to you in doing that aspect of it because the spontaneous activity of the mind and that is a performance of a spontaneous activity of the mind there is no harm done to you in seeing, in smelling, in tasting, in contacting and thinking, no harm done to you. It is this addition that you have committed in the way of pursuing the experience to a bitter end. If it is something pleasant to enjoy that pleasant sensation, if it is something which you did not like to create an aversion to that sensation that has led you to this misery.
Who did that? Not the act of seeing.
Who did that? Not the act of hearing.
Who did that? Not the act of smelling.
Who did that? Not the act of tasting.
Who did that? Not the act of contacting.
Who did that? Not the act of thinking.
No, they have finished their tasks. In creating the 5 mental factors, a thought has been created by the consciousness and the consciousness has performed this task in enabling you to experience things through the 6 sense bases. On the other hand, for the continuity in this life the consciousness does something more than that. The consciousness is meant for the continuity in this world and not for discontinuity. Therefore its contribution to the continuity of this world is to create this imaginary person in you.
Let us go further then, this imaginary person has created this desire in you. What did desire do? Ask that question, right we have committed ourselves in creating desire.
What did desire do to you?
What did the desire, what it did was create the grasping, grasping means there, Brothers and Sisters, clinging to a experience you have gone through in the way of experience the 5 grasping groups as a being. To that to such an extent that you expected this being to be becoming always, not to end his existence with this birth, but he will continue to exist in this world along with you with this thought, thinking process becoming and the becoming that has led to the rebirth.
If one would ask the question, what is the cause of your suffering? The cause of your suffering is rebirth.
What are you going to do now here? Meditate, develop your mind and try to stop this rebirth. That is what you are aiming at, stop the rebirth. If you are born again anywhere except of course in the 5 worlds so call Buddha path, in those world of course there is no coming back. You are born there not as a result of a karma, you are born there as a result of a developed mind for you to complete the task of attainment. In that birth there is no coming back. In any other birth, whether it is the Brahma world or in the Devas world, or in the human world, animal world or any other world, you are continuing the cycles of birth. And when you are continuing that cycle of birth, you are subjected to this affliction, this suffering. Therefore object in pursing this philosophy is to stop further births which results in not subjecting yourself to suffering.
Then ask the question, who created this birth?
Desire created that birth for you.
Who is the creator of desire?
The answer you can give is; not the realistic performance of the sense base that has created this desire. If the realistic perform the sense base, it created the desire like that, then there is no possibility of your seeking your lasting peace in Nibbana, because that is part and parcel of this activity of the 6 sense bases. And you will be subject to that activity, and the result will be you will be continue to exist birth after birth. It is your foolish activity in believing an author or creating an author for the six sense base activities as the person responsible in performing those tasks. It is false belief which you have clung to, which you have grasped so hard that has created this being in you and you not only stop your activity in experiencing something through a sense base, but you went further or made this so call being to go further to enjoy what is pleasant or to create a distaste towards what is unpleasant. And it is these 2 creations, one of these 2 creations that supported desire. Therefore desire is something which you have brought upon in yourself as a result of your foolish activity, in doing something which you should not do. In not realizing that there is a delusion created by the mind misleading you. And it is the realistic knowledge of Dhamma that will make you understand this delusion that had been created by the consciousness. Therefore all worldlings are subjected to this delusion. There is no escape for them so long as they believe in this delusion. It is a great being like the Buddha who appears in the world periodically, who points out this delusion to us.
And one would ask the question, for instance if we believe in the delusion, we continue our birth in this world. If we don’t believe in the delusion like that, then there is no purpose, we have finished our world.
We have seen, it has arisen and pass away.
We have heard, it has arisen and pass away.
We have smelt, it has arisen and pass away.
We have tasted, it has arisen and pass away.
We have contacted, it has arisen and pass away.
We have thought, we have created thought, the thought has arose, the thought arose and pass away. That’s all, that’s all.
In that activity there is no creation of desire. But in there, there is desire. We realistically experience something through a sense base, it arose and pass away that’s end of it.
The creation of the desire in trying to pursue sensation to the bitter end of enjoying the pleasantness in that pleasant sensation pursued to create an attachment to that sensation, unpleasant sensation pursued to create an aversion to that feeling. These unnecessary things that you have committed which you are used to commit, that has led you to this misery of living in misery, in trouble, in suffering. And you are ignorant of it, your ignorance has led you to lead this life, this 11 links in the dependent origination. In ignorance you commit sankharas, formations. That is the activity of the 6 sense bases. In committing those acts or activities of the 6 sense bases, you naturally came to know that the objects that has attract to the sense bases is to your liking or not to your liking. That’s all. Therefore, there you have finished that act of seeing, finished the act of hearing. The activity by the sense bases are concerned is over with the creation of a thought and then you experience something through a sense base. On the other hand, for the worldling who leads a worldly life, he has been misled to create a being in you, in him. He experiences the sense base activities and he pursues what is pleasant for his enjoyment and he lives in always expectation of pleasant things. When an unpleasant incident occurs, he get disturbed and create a displeasure about that, an aversion about that because he always expect something pleasant. Buddha says the human being feels. He feels what is good, he feels what is bad. That is brought about by the mental factor feeling. That is part and parcel of the thought you create to perform the act of the sense bases. But the further development from there onwards, this person’s activity, this individual whom you have planted in yourself, he acts further, after all it’s one mass of thoughts and nothing else, he thinks that’s all. Even enjoying a pleasant sensation is creation of a thought. Even creating aversion is also a creation of a thought, nothing else. You create thoughts and you live in those thoughts. Unpleasant is felt in the thought you have created, pleasant is also felt in the thought you have created. You live in thoughts, that’s all.
What has happened to you?
You live in a thought and believe in that thought and the belief has made you to thirst for continuity in this world. And that continuity has created the birth for you, whereas on the other hand if you realistically perform your activity through the sense bases, you would have just only seeing with your eyes that’s all, heard with your ears that’s all, smelt with your nose that is all, tasted with your tongue that is all, contacted with your body that is all, and create a thought in your mind that is all. All the other activity like links created by phassa, vedana, tanha, upadana, bhava, jati, all those are subsequent creation as a result of your foolish acts. I would not say foolish, the word foolish is too harsh a term to be used because you have been misled completely by consciousness, and that is the worldly way of existence. We always emphasis the fact that the consciousness within you is not a power for you to maintain in your attainment, that also has to be abandoned if you are going to attain. Attained what? Attained the final salvation, therefore it is clear indication that that is also a power that helps you to maintain yourself in a worldly way, so is your body. That is why Buddha says even in your attainment, do not lose your mindfulness, be always on your guard because there is always a possibility if you are careless for you to slip or fall, a slip like that would not cause you much harm but constantly slipping down, slipping down, slipping down ultimately may lead you to create something really unpleasant and bad and not helpful for your final liberation.
Now let us go back again to this suffering, as I indicated to you, the 6 sense bases are the source of your suffering. Eye is the source of your suffering, the ear is a source of your suffering, the nose is a source of your suffering, the tongue is a source of your suffering, the body is a source of your suffering, thinking is also a source of your suffering. Sense base activities are the source of your suffering. Why? Because these activities lead you to the creation of desire. That desire leads you to have a firm hold on this imaginary being as a being existing in you grasping and this being is always anxious to continue, become, become, become, become, and that attitude of mind creates the birth for you. Wherever you may be born, you will be subject to suffering, there is no two words about it. Therefore birth is the cause for your suffering, then you ask the question clearly, if there is a being in you as you imagine, then there is a sufferer, there is a sufferer then. But if there is no being in you, there is no suffering. If there is no being in you there is no person owning this suffering. That is why Buddha says it is to be admitted that there is suffering but there is no person who is suffering. Who created the person, you created the person it is a fictitious imaginary person you have created and this activity of the body and the mind you have made it to be a being’s activity and effect of that activity if it is suffering you have put all that onto your head and you are suffering as a result. When in fact and in truth that there is no being in you. You are only body and mind and nothing else.
The best example I can give you is there are people who practice mass hypnotism or activity which can control the mind of different other person. In such instances, there have been occasions when suppose whatever the master says, the person subject to that activity he fully believed. He takes a pencil and make that person believe here I am holding a red hot iron and I am going to burn you now. And he brings the pencil close to his body, you see this man subject to this activity facing cries of pain, I pain, paining, paining, I am burning. What is it that creates that realistic aspect feeling of burning? The belief. He believes that he is being burnt, but in truth it is not so.
I give you an example again, you walk along the road a foot path at about 6 or 7 pm dusk time, just can see it you have no light in your hand, and you see a rope across a road. The light is not sufficient for you to realistically understand what that object is but it had the shape of a snake and you started crying snake, snake, snake, snake. People all got together armed with clubs. You are not at the scene. You have run away from the scene and you are still crying that I saw a snake. And you are about to think, you may go and tell that person after seeing that rope, described the entire thing very vividly and say that it is a rope and not a snake that you saw. No, no I saw a snake, even my eye saw the snake across the road, how do you say that is not a snake. Come, until he sees himself the rope, you can never convince him that he has not seen a snake. In the same way Brothers and Sisters, now you are developing your mind to a degree. When you create an ability in you to see the truth, to see the realistic rope across the road, then you know that it is a rope, and you believe yes it is a rope, I made a mistake.How much of things I may say convincingly about this when you do not have that ability in your mind, developed mind, transcended mind to realistically understand the true nature of things, any amount of descriptions given by me will not convinced you that there is no being in you. And what you are doing now is meditation.
What are you doing in this meditation?
Developing your mind to that degree of, to create that ability to realistically understand the true nature of things. That is the essential thing. That is the secret of this. And how do you do that, develop your mind to a high degree, transcend it to a high degree when it has the capacity to see through a thing. What you experience now is what is found on the surface, you accepted it. Yes I see it, that there is there, who say that it is not there. But when you have transcended the mind to a higher degree, we say that there is nothing permanent there, everything is subjected to change but only thing is the eye hasn’t that capacity to make you see that change, therefore you are merely led by the eye which is a worldly object for you to continue in the world. But your development in your mind make you realize that there is impermanence in everything. When you see an object, you’ll just not be led by what you see from outside. You will realistically understand the true nature of that object that it is impermanent, unsatisfactory and does not continue to exist. We could still even challenge that but for the fact that all the scientist in the world, in the modern world, they have proved to The Hague what Buddha said that everything in this world is constantly changing has been accepted now as a realistic truth, as a truth that can be convincingly proved through science. Therefore when the dependent origination says that ignorance has led you to commit acts through your six sense bases in the way of sankhara, you have committed those acts with the false belief that they have been committed by you and it is this false belief that has made you to create this defilement of desire in you and it is this desire that has led you to continue to exist in this world. And it is this existence in the world, births after births that is the cause for your misery. Now what you are doing is you are developing your mind to realistically understand the true nature of things, thereby not to pursue the line of action that has up to date, promote the desire in you.
The 4 foundation of mindfulness says don’t pursue this unnecessary activity of pursuing pleasure, creating aversion to what is unpleasant. That is the thing that has led to the creation of desire. Now you are trying that now, you are practicing that development in you. And when you go on practicing that development in you, you will reach a stage that you only will be satisfied with your eyes having seen something and no more. You will never think about it. You also will perform the other activities of the 6 sense bases and stop all your further activity beyond experiencing the object, that’s all. Then what happens? Desire is not fed. Desire is not a quality of the mind, it is something added by you as an addition and you maintain it as a habit. Now you do not pursue the habit therefore what happen is desire must fade away. If desire fades away, then you are liberated. It is the desire that lead you from birth to birth to lead this worldly life. Get rid of desire.