Upanisa sutta by Nina van Gorkom

N: Heap, in Pali: rasii. I took this from the Dispeller of D., the co to the Book of Analysis. It also says: quantity, crowd, mass. Many kinds of feeling are taken all together as feeling khandha.

L: When unpleasant feeling arises with dislike (dosa) is the feeling tasting the dislike or the object of dislike, say, an orange?

N: Feeling takes the same object as the citta it accompanies. Thus, there can be citta rooted in dosa which dislikes an unpleasant feeling that has just fallen away. The accompanying feeling experiences the taste of that same object. Or, there is dosa about dosa. Then the object is dosa just fallen away and feeling shares that object. This can happen very easily. When dosa has as object the flavour of an orange, the accompanying feeling shares that object. Thus, we always have to consider first: what is the object of citta. Dosa does not dislike itself, thus, the dosa at that moment, but it can have as object another moment of dosa, the characteristic of dosa that has just fallen away.

L: Also, I don’t have a clear idea what kind of formation sankhara cetasikas form.

N: An important subject. The khandha of formations include 50 cetasikas, and thus also akusala cetasikas and sobhana cetasikas. I shall say more, using the Upanisa Sutta, quoted by Howard. First your next Q.

L: Is formation in this sense reality or concept?

N: The name khandha of formations (a name concept) stands for realities. Are these cetasikas not real?

L:Are accumulated volitions considered to be formations? Are volitions themselves formations?

N: Yes. I read in the Dispeller that volition is principal because of its obviousness in the sense of accumulating, but the formations connected with it, thus the other cetasikas, are also included.

Now I continue about the accumulation of sankharakkhandha. Sankhaara: putting together, combining. They combine and form up conditions for other dhammas. Or they are conditioned. Akusala cetasikas and sobhana cetasikas are included in sankharakkhandha. They arise and fall away and are then accumulated from one citta to the next citta. There are accumulated unwholesome tendencies but also wholesome inclinations. They condition the arising again of kusala and akusala by way of natural dependence-condition.
Also kamma is accumulated and can bring a result later on in the form of vipaka, that is kamma-condiiton, another type of condiiton. A. Sujin often says: all moments of intellectual understanding of realities and all good qualities, such as the perfections, are accumulated as sankharakkhandha and can condition later on the arising of pañña that directly understands nama and rupa as they are.

Taking the Upanisa sutta:

Suffering is the supporting condition for faith, faith is the supporting condition for joy, joy is the supporting condition for rapture, rapture is the supporting condition for tranquillity, tranquillity is the supporting condition for happiness, happiness is the supporting condition for concentration, concentration is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, the knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the supporting condition for disenchantment, disenchantment is the supporting condition for dispassion, dispassion is the supporting condition for emancipation, and emancipation is the supporting condition for the knowledge of the destruction (of the cankers).

N: It all starts with confidence in the Path leading to the end of dukkha. If there is not strong confidence we shall not develop it. Joy (paamojja), rapture (piiti), tranquillity (passaddhi), happiness (sukha), concentration (samadhi), they are all sobhana cetasikas accumulated as sankharakkhandha. It depends on a person’s abilities and inclinations whether there is calm to the degree of jhana or of a lesser degree. The Sub co to this sutta explains sukha here as access to absorption. When contemplating realities, there is samadhi and the object is Recollection of the Dhamma. Pañña and samadhi go together. There has to be pañña with all these sobhana cetasikas, because they arise with mental development, bhavana. There is no bhavana without pañña. They all lead to a higher degree of pañña: knowledge and vision of things as they really are, yaata-bhuuta-ñaa.nadassana. Thus to insight that has been developed. Before this can happen there have to be many moments of considering Dhamma, moments of being aware of nama and rupa. Also concentration. When considering the teachings, deeply reflecting on them, is there no calm and concentration together with intellectual understanding? These are cetasikas, non-self, and they can arise naturally without forcing their arising. Such concentration can be the proximate cause of direct understanding of nama and rupa. There is also joy, rapture and tranquillity. Tranquillity arises with each kusala citta. We can feel enthusiasm about the truth of the Dhamma. It is not necessarily so that one factor that supports another factor has to arise before. The term proximate cause, immediate occasion, can also be used for dhammas arising together. They are all sankharakkhandha that are accumulated and they condition each other mutually. They can condition the arising even of lokuttara pañña. This is a degree of pañña that never arose before. Thus, what has been accumulated can condition what never was there before. Whatever kusala, and understanding, even intellectual understanding we accumulate now is never lost. This is an encouraging Sutta.


In the Upanissa Sutta, the Buddha said “Knowledge & vision of things as they actually are present has concentration as its prerequisite.” P.S. This doesn’t say “sole prerequisite,” and it doesn’t say how much concentration, though it must be enough to bother talking about(!), and, IMO, this statement says enough for one to realize on the basis of it not to shortchange concentration, because a prerequisite is a necessary condition – a “without which, not” condition!

N: Yes, right concentration is compared to a wetnurse in the Co to the much quoted sutta:

S.N. IV, 80 (§ 99 ); develop concentration… Samadhi is paraphrased as one-pointedness. A wetnurse: very important for an infant in olden times. Another sutta: S.N. V, 144 ( On Satipatthana, 4, Saala. The Buddha says: “Come you, friends, do you abide in body contemplating body (as transient), ardent, composed and one-pointed, of tranquil mind, calmed down, of concentrated mind, for insight into body as it really is.” And the same for the other three objects of satipatthana. Co notes, to one-pointed: ekodi bhuuta: by a momentary concentration (kha.nika samaadhi) become one-pointed and tranquillized. And to concentrated: by way of access and attainment concentration (jhana).

Then another sutta: Gradual Sayings, book of the Tens, Ch I, § 1. In a way similar to the Upanissa sutta it is explained how from one condition follows the next one. We read: “Knowing and seeing things as they really are (yathaabhuuta ñaa.na dassana) is the object and profit of concentration.” We read that the next steps are revulsion (nibbida) and fading of interest (viraga)and then release by knowing and seeing. We read in the Co that Knowing and seeing things as they really are is the first stage of tender insight, vipassana that is weak, and that revulsion (nibbida) is vipassana as power, this means, vipassana that has been developed already and which becomes detached form nama and rupa. We read that fading of interest is already the Path-consciousness, and that release is the fruition of arahatship and that knowing and seeing is his reviewing knowledge, paccavekkha.na ñaa.na. The next sutta, § 2, is very interesting: Thinking with intention. For each of the previous conditions it is said that one step arises naturally, dhammataa, from the previous one. thus: Monks, for one who is happy there is no need for the thought: my mind is concentrated. It follows that the happy man’s mind is concentrated. Monks, for one who is concentrated there is no need for the thought: I know and see things as they really are. It follows naturally that one concentarted does so…. When we see how conditions naturally evolve there will be less inclination to try to do specific things with an idea of “I do it.” I think that your post with the simile was well expressed. You take into account different conditions and among them pariyatti: standing guard at the gate of the city, watching carefully who is entering or trying to, and responding according to instructions: stop the terrorists (akusala), but permit – even encourage – the good visitors (kusala). Such a guard requires prior instruction (pariyatti) and much hands-on training (patipatti) to properly carry out his responsibilities.

N: I would like to add that the guard has to be instructed about the Troyan horse. A foe, akusala, can enter disguised as a friend, kusala. Lobha is so tricky. There is wrong concentration accompanying lobha and even lobha with wrong view, and there is right concentration. In the course of insight right concentration naturally develops, it becomes stronger because of conditions.

Some people developed jhana and indeed the texts about access and attainment concentration apply to them. Some did not, and their concentration was only momentary concentration. We read that the conditions for insight are: association with the right person who can explain the dhamma, listening, practice in accordance with the dhamma. In order to listen and consider, concentration is needed, but together with sati sampajañña, sati and pañña. Imagine, when one thinks of the nice food that is going to be served while listening to the Dhamma, how can one get anything that is being explained, there would not be any concentration.

This happened while sitting and listening somewhere outside in Thailand, the Thai food smelled so good. But of course, there can be awareness and understanding of the smell of food or of the attachment to it, and then there is understanding but also concentration. Anything can be object of satipatthana. When one begins to be aware, the object is one nama or one rupa at a time. One-pointedness is needed, but together with understanding. This does not mean that one tries to select nama and rupa and tries to concentrate on specific ones, because then the present dhamma has fallen away already, and we shall never understand anatta. I think it is just a natural process. When there is right understanding it is accompanied by right concentration.

Throughout the development of insight concentration grows naturally. We cannot do without concentration, but this does not mean: I have to try very hard to be concentrated. Then there is bound to be an idea of self who does it all. The Abhidhamma helps us to understand that all these factors are cetasikas arising because of the appropriate conditions, cetasikas which perform functions. If we forget this, we read all the suttas with wrong understanding and wrong view. The Buddha said: develop concentration, develop understanding, be aware. This means: concentration develops, understanding develops, awareness arises, but his words can be an exhortation, a condition for the arising of all those qualities which are cetasikas, devoid of self.

To conclude: we should not belittle the role of concentration but neither should we lose sight of proportions. We should always consider the context where the word concentration is used and compare text with text compare sutta and abhidhamma. Whenever we read about samadhi, no matter it is of the degree of jhana or momentary concentration, we should remember that it is samadhi of mental development, bhaavanaa. And bhaavanaa cannot be without sati sampajañña, sati and pañña. Thus, concentration, but never without sati sampajañña, is a prerequisite for seeing things as they are: the arising of stages of insight, direct understanding. And this is another level of pañña, another step, it is no longer intellectual understanding. There have to be pañña, sati and also one-pointedness on the nama and rupa that appear one at a time, so that their different characteristics are seen more and more clearly, so that in the course of insight they are seen as impermanent, dukkha and anatta. Pañña, sati and samadhi and all the enlightenment factors that develop together along with satipatthana are necessary conditions for enlightenment. We read about samadhi but we should not forget all the suttas about the enlightenment factors. At the moment of enlightenment pañña is lokuttara and the accompanying samadhi has the strength of jhana because of conditions: nibbana is the object. This is far away. I do not see things as they really are yet, but I feel that the very beginning of development has to be right.

It is counter productive to try very hard to concentrate on nama and rupa, that is bound to be done with self. Then it is not mental development. The idea of self is not eradicated but it is not right to think, well it does not matter to do things with an idea of self. Then wrong view will only be accumulated and grow evermore. Understanding has to be keen and detect exactly when the idea of self slips in. Pañña, sati, concentration and all sobhana cetasikas have to grow naturally. See the sutta. Your remark was a condition for me to be very concentrated on concentration!