By Sujin Boriharnwanaket
Excerpt from dhamma discussion
at Khunying Noparat’s
July 6, 2000
Translated by Amara-Varee
Anguttara Nikaya, Dasaka Nipata, Samatha-Sutta: on habits to be formed or avoided.
‘Behold Bhikkhu: Should the bhikkhu not be knowledgeable in the instants of citta of others, then he should study to be knowledgeable in the instants of his own citta. Behold, bhikkhu, he should study thus.’
Sujin: Perhaps we should already begin the discussion now. While the Buddha’s words might seem brief but in reality there is much to consider and examine, for example the phrase ‘ Should the bhikkhu not be knowledgeable in the instants of citta of others ‘. This applies not only to bhikkhus, but to anyone who thinks they know what other people think. Do they really know, or could they only guess without being able to tell whether the other person’s citta might be thinking, seeing or performing any of the functions involving the citta.
‘Then he should study to be knowledgeable in the instants of his own citta.’
This is already a reminder, which is the most important thing for those who like to criticize others, who are preoccupied with others, but are not mindful of their own citta whether the thinking is kusala or akusala. Therefore the highest beneficence is not to be able to change other’s akusala thoughts but one’s own at that moment of thinking of others as kusala and akusala of which there can be mindfulness to know the truth, until there can be change from akusala to more kusala.
Such bits of sayings may not seem like much, but those who read with discernment for the beneficence of the dhamma would greatly profit from it and remind themselves with it.
Prathib: You say that we are unable to know the citta of others but able to know whether our own citta as we think of others is kusala or akusala. I am reminded of earlier knowledge from my studies that mentions the citta within and the citta outside. How would that relate?
Sujin: Who is seeing at this instant?
Prathib: We are.
Sujin: So know the seeing that we are having here, do not think of others.
Prathib: Sometimes we see others being sad.
Sujin: Whose citta is seeing others being sad?
Prathib: Our citta.
Sujin: So, what should we know?
Prathib: Shouldn’t we know both?
Sujin: What I meant was, the actual truth of the matter is that without the citta how could we see others? Could we then think they are sad? Therefore what should we know?
Prathib: Then we should know our own citta that is thinking so.
Sujin: We must read the Sutta circumspectly and in great detail, which means that one should not want to know no matter what is mentioned in the Mahasatipatthana-Sutta, even though they do not appear to you, while ignoring things that are appearing now. If we wanted to know another’s citta, when would we ever know the truth?
It depends, therefore, on the level of panna, and whose panna it is, whether the person is able or not to know the citta of others. We could only think about it. To think is normal, to see and then think is normal, but one should know the truth, about the realities of the moment.
Prathib: Should we know at the instants of javana-citta?
Sujin: That is book knowledge, where it is necessary to have names for the citta. When the reality of a citta is appearing as well as the experiencing of the citta, there are no names tagged onto them. For example the seeing at this instant is not a rupa. The rupa cannot see. But the seeing is a reality, a citta, to be exact, which is able to arise and experience what is appearing. Then there is no need to use the word ‘cakkhu-vinnana’ or the term the ‘citta that sees’ because at this instant we are gradually learning the characteristics that are a reality that sees, that knows what things that appear through the eye are like. The reality arises to know without the need for us to give it any name at all. Therefore one need not think of the process of citta complete from the bhavanga-calana, bhavangupaccheda, panca-dvara-vaccana, etc. One need not think of anything, because one would be thinking of words, names and connotations or subject matter.
Therefore when we study the dhamma we must listen to understand that it means to experience the characteristics of realities appearing. This is the beneficence. No matter how detailed the study, to know for example that before seeing there has to be bhavanga-citta, all that is to show the reality of anatta. No matter how much or how widely we study the dhamma, the beneficence is to know the realities of the instant. Not that this instant one should know precisely the bhavanga-calana, or the bhavangupaccheda, or the panca-dvara-vaccana, that is not so. Even the characteristics of seeing now should be known as a nama-dhamma. Nama-dhamma arise and fall away in very rapid sequence and we use names, pannati, to explain the swiftness of the continued arising and falling away for there to be each moment of seeing, of hearing. The intention is not for us to become attached to the names. We must know that all this study about the citta, cetasika, rupa, the vithi citta, the paccaya, this vast number of things would not be in vain if one is able to recognize that this instant is the citta or the cetasika not in name but in the characteristics of the precise dhamma appearing.
One must therefore know the purpose of studying, of listening. Which is towards anatta, so when sati arises there would be paccaya enough for there to be disillusionment, for attenuation of attachments and for the right understanding, that this instant is only dhamma, to arise. We do not have to think of the names. The instant we think of the names there would already be us who are grasping for the names. The study is towards the realization of anatta, the rapid arising and falling away in continuation, and to know what citta there were from the moment we were born til now, what were their functions, and how many cetasika accompanied them; thus, to know the reality of anatta. The citta cannot arise by itself, there must be paccaya to compose it. Then we must return to the experience of realities, otherwise all book learning would be void, without any use whatever. It would be learning and remembering the names like all sciences such as history and geography to be forgotten come the next rebirth, and begun all over again.
But to study, listen and hear explanations to experience the characteristics of realities knowing the purpose to be to understand the reality that is appearing this instant, one must know while we study where the actual dhamma is. The dhamma itself is the citta, cetasika and rupa which arise and fall away according to paccaya at all times. This being the case, from birth til death, and still we did not know it, we would study to correctly know it is only the citta, cetasika and rupa which are not us, and study in further detail, since the panna of this level cannot eradicate kilesa. Therefore one must comprehend the attributes of the sankhara-khandha of the characteristics of what is appearing which would be according to what we have studied, without having to name it.
The Tipitaka is the Dhamma-Vinaya. The Vinaya generally intends the behavior of the bhikkhu or ascetics. The Dhamma is arranged into two pitaka namely the Sutta and the Abhidhamma. Therefore this means that not just anyone, without any knowledge of the dhamma would be able to understand the characteristics of anatta or of dhamma. The dhamma that the Buddha had manifested from his enlightenment shows his supreme panna, karuna and parisudhi, and the student should study conscientiously to really understand, specifically, the reason why we study this.
May I ask someone who has never studied before, can you feel anger when you are angry? The characteristics of anger are different from moments without anger, we know. Did we have to know the name javana? Not at all. And if we said, to see, not to hear, could we not know that the seeing now is a reality appearing through the eye, whereas the ear, now there being sound, is not what appears through the eye. Therefore seeing is one instant and hearing another. Do we have to know the names cakkhu vinnana or sota-vinnana?
One must truly comprehend that the study of the dhamma is towards the understanding of dhamma, not that one must be able put the names to the dhamma in order to understand. One need not say that this instant is cakkhu-vinnana, before which there was the panca-dvara-vaccana-citta before which there must have been bhavangupaccheda. These are all names, intended to show the intricacies and the true quality of anatta, whereas when the realities appear, there need not be any names. All that we have learnt are exactly according to realities manifested in more detail. For example to see is not the lobha-mula-citta, nor dosa-mula-citta, therefore one should see the differences and the rapidity of the citta. That the one instant of seeing which is just experiencing, knowing what is appearing and with such characteristics. This is the function of the citta. The citta is predominant in clearly experiencing the characteristics of the aramana, or what appears and is known by the citta. No matter through the eye, as colors or through the ear as sounds, the citta is characterized by the ability to clearly realize that the aramana really is what it is. Some people wonder about music played simultaneously as different kinds of music, but if the citta were not able to distinguish among the sounds, we would not be able to know there were differences. Because of ignorance we wonder whether it were simultaneous or what sound that is. This is a matter of thinking and of ignorance.
We must us really understand that to study the dhamma is to begin to study the supreme knowledge of Buddha the Arahanta which he minutely manifested in his great beneficence. One of the meanings of ‘abhi’ is great, in great detail, to manifest the quality of anatta, since just to say that there are two realities, namely nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma, does not help us to relinquish or attenuate anything in the least. Panna would only know the names, that there are two realities. But the actual realities that are performing their functions namely the reality that is nama-dhamma that is seeing, hearing, thinking, feeling happy or unhappy, etc., while the rupa-dhamma appears through the eye, ear, nose tongue, and bodysense. We must understand also that there are so many names in book knowledge because there are actually as many characteristics of realities. There are so many that there must be names to differentiate even the words nama-dhamma and rupa-dhamma into the various characteristics of citta and cetasika, the citta meaning the dhatu that knows, predominant in experiencing and knowing; and the cetasika intends another kind of reality that is not the citta but depends on the citta to arise. It knows the same aramana as the citta and falls away simultaneously. Words must be used to explain but once understood, no names are needed when sati arises to be mindful of the characteristics of realities of the instant. This is because realities arise and fall away very swiftly, the instant we think of names, that instant there is no mindfulness of the characteristics of the paramattha-dhamma.
When each person starts to study the dhamma, there would be many names but one must understand why there are so many: because realities are actually like that. We must understand this but when sati arises to be mindful of the characteristics of realities, there are no names involved. Sati is not to make something happen, not something we call ‘practice’ and need to do. It is the duty of the sankhara khandha beginning at the level of listening.
To begin with sankhara-khandha, from the moment of birth we can se that even the ekaggata cetasika arises with the patisandhi citta, if we understand the teachings. This is the level of understanding the theory of anatta, it is not to try to know the patisandhi citta itself, which is impossible. Still one should know that even the first citta of life the ekaggata cetasika would have arisen as the reality that is established in the aramana. We will not talk only about cetasika of the good side, since some are born with kusala vipaka which are not composed with sobhana cetasika, but uniquely about the cetasika that arise with all citta. We should see the continuity, the composition from the moment of birth, whether even the ekaggata cetasika, which is established in the aramana, is the same when the citta is a vithi-citta and or when it is a lobha-mula-citta. All this is to see the state of anatta, to see that everything is the dhamma that is not us, not to be attached to the names. Or, when sati is mindful, to try to know the names of to tell what kind of reality it is. The characteristics of the citta is already what it is as we have seen theoretically.
So there are two things that we learn here, that those who study the dhamma and understand, would know that daily life is exactly like that, as we have learned through theoretical study. That means that, before studying, daily life was like that without ever knowing the names of realities, while after studying we begin to understand that realities with such names are daily life; this is one thing.
Some are different, after studying the names they realize that daily life is this, really and truly, and use the terms in daily life. Whereas the former knows that daily life before or ever since when it was like this but after the study they know that there are really many types of citta in daily life and this is what they are called.
I don’t know if you can tell the difference between the person who knows that such is daily life, after studying they understand just according to the words, ah, so daily life is exactly as the Buddha had manifested. But another would study the names and when daily life appears, they would say, ah, it is what we have learned. These are different matters, or would you say otherwise?
Perhaps we could continue, because we have only read three lines, Khun Unnop.
Unnop: The Buddha then explained, ‘How is the bhikkhu wise in matters of his own citta?
‘Behold, bhikkhu: how is the bhikkhu wise in matters of his own citta? Behold, bhikkhu: like young men or women and in the habit of dressing well, who look into a clear clean mirror or water vessel. If they find dust or black spots on their faces, they would try to get rid of the blemishes. If they do not, they would be pleased, and think according to that mature cause that, “This is our good fortune, our faces are clean and pure,” thus.
‘Behold, bhikkhu: the Bhikkhu would examine, “Am I one who has attained peacefulness of mind within or not? Am I one who has attained realization of the dhamma with the supreme panna or not? This would greatly beneficent towards kusala dhamma in the same manner.”‘
Sujin: The Buddha compared the fact that to see our faces without blemishes is pleasing in a worldly way. But the difference is that to be able to see the instants of citta as dhamma and not us, the pleasure would be of another character, or in the dhamma and not us.
Weera: I misunderstood it to be matters of akusala citta. To read this part of the sutta, it is easy to misunderstand: the good fortune to have examined. We still do not know what ‘peacefulness of mind within’ is, then to have peacefulness of mind within, and feel fortunate, this is clearly lobha.
Sujin: The passage says, ‘Am I one who has attained realization of the dhamma with the supreme panna or not?’ and not only the supreme peacefulness. This Sutta, especially with the name ‘Samatha Sutta’, make people think of only peace, literally it means peacefulness with panna. Therefore in the Buddhist sasana there is never any teachings without panna. The instant panna arises there is also peace. There need not be attachment to other kinds of peace.
Weera: The Buddha continued, whether they ‘ attained realization of the dhamma with the supreme panna or not’ intending the instant sati-patthana arises?
Sujin: To know realities as they really are. According to the dhamma one has heard or studied in books, from the very first word, that dhamma are anatta, not the self.
Therefore everyone should know himself as they really are and be straightforward and true. Having heard and examined, whether he is of those who have attained realization of the dhamma with the supreme panna or not, he would be straight and true about which level at which instant.
This morning everyone must have looked in the mirror. Some may already have read this sutta, but has the memory of the sutta or the respect one has for the Buddha’s great karuna in manifesting it, made us mindful? We look at the reflection of our faces, never at our hearts. In other words at that instant we did not have sati to be mindful of the characteristics of realities to know them as they really are, whether at that instant is nama-dhamma or rupa-dhamma.
Since everyone must look in the mirror, the sutta is there to remind those of us with sanna that is good memory, not to forget. But it is difficult for sati to arise and be mindful of realities that appear, one has to be a bahu-sutta or one that has heard and seen the beneficence of the Buddha’s words.
Why did the Buddha remind us of looking into the mirror? It is because we all do, and are satisfied with our face and figure, the exterior without blemishes, but the purpose is not to just look without sati or to be forgetful of sati. For sati-patthana to arise, however, does not depend on anyone’s wish for it to arise. The person must be one who listens to the dhamma, consider it and firmly see the beneficence.
A person once told me that when he reads a passage in the Sutta that says, in the evening, the citizens of Savatthi, upasaka and upasika, would enter the presence of the Buddha bearing flowers, incense and candles, to listen to the dhamma. Today the dhamma is the great teacher in his stead, have we ever thought that this evening we will enter his presence by listening to the dhamma, by studying or considering the dhamma?